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Can I have a dog?

This question captures the essence of our family's selfishness in its truest form.

The story goes back to 2004 when Tarun was considering an exciting work opportunity back in his University's home town, about four hours from where we were living at the time. When he asked me whether it was a good idea for him to move, I said it was a no-brainer and he had to do it. He then went to Neil to ask his opinion and the Grand Poobah of teens dismissively said, "I am going to college, I don't really care where you live."

Check, check.

He then found a quiet time to review his options with ten-year old Josh. With great care he explained the why and the how, worried about upsetting him with a split family situation. Josh listened to him carefully, looked him straight in the eye, and firmly asked, "Can I have a dog?"

Relieved that Josh wasn't in tears, Tarun hugged him and said, "Sure!"

That was the genesis and we've hung on to this question with dear life. Whenever any of us wants to be selfish we ask the question and it cracks up the rest of the family. Today as we were discussing another important topic that arguably might impact Josh in a tangential way, he asked with a smirk, "Can I have a dog?!"

This time, the older and wiser Tarun said, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!"

It takes me back to my own childhood days when my desires were simple, the consequences were somebody else's, and the wins were phenomenal. I wish life were that simple again.

And about the story that started it all: this is what Tarun felt like after we got Hershey and he regretted his swift response to Josh every day for many years to come.

Cartoon from The New Yorker

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