When it was time for a new family car last year, my husband and I brought our daughter with us for a day of browsing and test-driving at a dealership. She enjoyed the free donuts, had fun at the steering wheel of the SUV in the showroom and loved the convertible that we took for a spin before our more practical objectives dragged us back to reality. All day, she seemed happy.

On the way home, in our old car, she suddenly got very quiet. The crying started a few blocks from home. "What's wrong, cookie pie?" I asked. "I don't know," she insisted. And I don't think she did know. But I knew.

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