When my son was six years old, he looked up at me in the kitchen one day and asked: "Am I going to have any brothers and sisters?"
I'm a pretty quick thinker, and today it worked out. I quickly thought and replied -- while looking him understandingly in the eyes.
"You know," - I said - "a lot of parents will keep having kids until they get one they like... and we like you."
He smiled. His question got a sincere and direct response. It seemed reasonable. It made him feel good. And, at least the part about us liking him was true.
I've since told that story many times. It's fun. I usually get a chuckle and a compliment for my quick wit.
One time, however, was so funny to me but I couldn't laugh.
I told the story to a couple at a picnic. They had three kids. When the wife heard that story, she looked at me -- a blank stare. She then looked at her husband -- questioning.
"You mean... I could have just given a thoughtful response instead of having more children?"
She wasn't joking. I saw the last five years of effort and opportunity cost flash across her face. I smiled empathetically.