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Promises Promises

Marla Burke's 7-year-old daughter, Cara (not their real names), always walked home from school, but one day she wanted a ride so she'd be on time for dance class. Burke, of Glen Ellyn, IL, said she'd pick Cara up, but was so busy that afternoon she didn't look up from her work until 15 minutes after Cara usually arrived.

Burke rushed to the school, but Cara had already gone home with an emergency contact, a neighbor. When Burke reached the neighbor's house, Cara was very upset. Burke said she was sorry, and explained that she'd lost track of time. But neither apology nor excuse would suffice.

"You promised!" Cara sobbed.

Susan Gilbert writes regularly about health issues for The New York Times.