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As life becomes harder at the front, it becomes harder at home as well. It's not that Lauren misses the conversations with her parents over dinner. She just wishes they were home so she could annoy and ignore them, as a 14-year-old should. "If Mom and Dad were back, I'd get home from school before them. I'd do my homework, go on the computer, talk on the phone nonstop and turn my stereo up real loud," she says. She likes Top 40 R. and B. Her parents do not.
And if they were home, she could stop thinking about them all the time. The calls are reassuring, but Lauren's leg begins to tap up and down when the subject of war comes up. "Nothing's going to happen. Mom's always on top of things and cheerful. Dad worked at the Pentagon, Mom at the White House. Nothing's going to happen." And her leg keeps tapping, up and down. --Reported by Jim Lacey/Kuwait, Cathy Booth Thomas/Fort Campbell, Rita Healy/Denver, Hilary Hylton/Fort Hood, Constance E. Richards/Asheville and Mark Thompson/Washington