The Victim. You can tell she's a victim by how tortured she looks.
As I've mentioned before, Vanessa told me recently she's suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. It's that condition some prisoners and college students develop when they begin to identify with their captors.
You cuff a kid to the radiator for one weekend and you're branded for life.
This observation was made during one of several discussions a flambé on the subject of boundaries and the pole she'd been using to vault over them. Yes, this summer, things around here have, on occasion, become a little heated. If you dropped in on us unannounced, I hope you were wearing asbestos-lined skivvies.
I gotta say right now - I absolutely adore this daughter. She has always been a source of energy and entertainment, a veritable calliope of singing and fluting and pianoing and whistling and gabbing. Way too talented, she can harmonize with anything capable of producing sound, including car alarms and flatulence. She's smart and funny and quirky.
Sadly, she's also 20. Which, as most of you know, means she's loopy as a two dollar sweater.
The problem with 20 is, it just gets you coming and going. Unless you're married, and maybe not even then, you're right on the cusp of being an independent adult, without any of the credentials, life experience, or cash to actually make it happen.
Twenty means your favorite television shows are "Rizzoli and Isles" and "Phineas and Ferb". You wear three inch heels and a Circus, Circus wristband to church. You diagnose carpal tunnel in your dad's thumbs and burst into tears at the prospect of driving to the dentist alone. You're certain you could out-parent any mother in the county, but you still believe meals are conjured out of thin air by chanting the magic words, "What's for dinner?"
Her between-semester break started out great. Having spent most of April and May in Europe, she came home happy and energized and grown up. She smiled and complied when I asked her to take her turn with the dishes. She chauffeured her brother to the mall. Swept and mopped the roughly seventy acres of tile we have on the main floor of our house, voluntarily and with a song in her heart. She was Cinderella with a driver's license, a double scoop of Joy ice cream, the kind of girl they make Seminary movies about.
Then, the next day, I found her writing to the ACLU with a grievance that the Wet Towel Statute of 2007* was unconstitutional, and insisting that they slap me with an injunction against any future demands that she do her own laundry.
* This states that when your carpet has so much mildew it qualifies for Federal Agricultural subsidies, there are too many wet towels on your bedroom floor.
So, it all came to a head as we were driving to Cafe Rio, where I would be buying her lunch, and I once again opened the subject of "Why The Roll Call of Parents in our Family Doesn't Include You". After reviewing the previous 48 hours in our home and concluding that she had issued, on average, one order per relative per minute, setting a record that even the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have a hard time besting, I wrapped up my opening salvo with the words, "If you don't think you can be content as one of the junior members of the family, it may be time to strike out on your own."
This was where the Stockholm Syndrome thing came in.
"Gaaaah!! You're driving me crazy!" (I love it when my kids tell me that. It feels so "Circle of Life.") "You know I don't have any money and can't move out and couldn't possibly be expected to keep my opinions about Jake's Facebook status and Cori's social life and David's crazy exes and Dad's hostility toward 'Hannah Montana' and your insane notion that you're the boss of the house all to myself!
"So either I have to stop mouthing off and be pleasant and cooperative or you'll throw me out into the streets to be a prostitute or an alarm salesman or maybe even get eaten by coyotes, which I'm pretty sure you'd think was perfectly fine, huh? You'd even laugh about it like I deserved it or something.
"I swear, you're pure evil! I'm a prisoner! I've got Stockholm Syndrome! Waaaaaah!!"
Of course, I had a wise and brilliant retort to all of this drama, but it had to wait. Instead, I turned to her and asked, in the voice of terrorists and hostage takers everywhere, "Do you want the pork burrito like usual, or should we wait for your Red Cross package to arrive?"
I know. I'm practically a war criminal.