The Meaning of Paying...

is not obvious. Our friends' three-year-old daughter stayed over our house Saturday night (along with her mom and dad). In the morning, I said to her, "Who said you could sleep in my house?" (I used my most jocular voice, and I'm pretty sure she knew we were engaged in play.)

She thought for a moment, then picked up a quarter from the table next to me, and handed it to me.

I realized that, at her age "paying" appears to be a courteous gesture, like waving hi or shaking hands: if you want to eat someone's food or stay in their house, you hand them some money... the fact that it is their own money doesn't enter into consideration. "Paying" is not exchange yet, but a polite utterance, similar to, "May I please have some food?"


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