ONCE UPON A TIME there was a huge, highly dysfunctional household. It had just ‘grown up’ over the years, and no one was quite sure if its parents really were parents, or just older children who had assumed a certain responsibility. Children had to share rooms, and the older kids were organized to share rooms with a younger sibling, for the sake of the peace of the house.

One rowdy older teen— claiming the autonomy that was his due— took to smoking up every afternoon and evening, despite the ill effects of pot on himself and his younger brother. His older sister, who had the bedroom down the hall, pleaded with him to stop, but to no avail: so one day she came and took her younger brother by the hand, and made a place for him in her bedroom with herself and his younger sister. The older abandoned brother complained to the other members of the household that this was "not on"—after all, she already had her younger sister, and his room was his room.

One of the "parents" of the house, which always ran by consultation, appointed several kids from each of the floors to have a meeting to solve the problem.

After the meeting, they called the disputing brother and sister together: "Look," they said, "we don’t act this way. Older brother, you have to give us a reason why it’s okay for you to smoke pot on the afternoons and in the evening, and assure us that this won’t harm your little brother. In the meantime, apologize for what you’re doing, and stop it!" (Older brother smiles. Apologize? Whatever. He had some kicking ‘shrooms and oxys in his schoolbag, ready to pull out after the meeting! )

"And you," they continued, speaking to the older sister, "Someone’s room is their room, and the kids in a room are to stick together. No interfering! So let little brother go back where he belongs. After all, a room with you and another girl is no place for him." They added, "Oh, by the way, you have to apologize for being a busybody, because, you know, that’s just NOT how we run things here."

The parents smiled at the obvious wisdom of their children. Who would have thought that these kids had the wisdom of Solomon? They were both in touch with the manners of the family, and creative enough to make space for new and bold behaviour! Their children were finally growing up….

Both big brother and little brother died that night of an overdose.

The family, of course, blamed big sister.