While engaged in intense discussions with a rebellious youngster over the weekend, a memory wafted up of my own rather small days. I was seven when my family bought its first house -- to general sighs of relief since three kids with one on the way begins to get tight in a two bedroom apartment.
After much thought, I brought my parents my current savings (perhaps twelve dollars -- a great sum when your weekly allowance is $0.50) and announced that I wanted to help out the family by paying for my room in the new house.
My parents thanked me gravely but suggested that I keep the money for my own purposes. I insisted, and eventually they brought forward the argument that houses were actually very expensive, and so the twelve dollars wouldn't pay for a whole room. (It wasn't really going to be my room, since all three of us were to share a bedroom, but as the oldest I considered the others mere visitors or interlopers.)
Not to be deterred, I countered by asking if I could buy a closet or maybe just a corner. Since I persisted the money was eventually accepted, and I asked if I could look over the corners when we visited the house so I could pick out which one would be mine.
However, the next time I had a falling out with my parents (which with seven year old's is likely to happen over the smallest -- indeed usually only the smallest -- pretext) it came out that I had it in my head that, having bought myself a corner of the house, I would thus have parental-level authority in that corner and could do whatever I liked there and could not be punished when taking refuge there.
At that point it was explained that the entire house belonged to the family, and in the family mommy and daddy ruled without rival. My money was returned, and I was cast out into the darkness of non-property-ownership for another twenty years.
How shocked my freedom-loving little mind would have been to know that even when you do buy your own house, there are legally instituted busy-bodies called homeowners associations watching like hawks to see if you haven't mowed your own lawn, built a playhouse than can be seen over the back fence, or otherwise treated your own property as if it was... your own. But that's another topic.
Good Story 152: The Little World of Don Camillo
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