Last Wednesday, I cooked up some scrambled eggs mixed with homemade crumbled sausage and shredded Colby-Jack cheese. It’s one of my favorites and the rest of my family likes it too. But my two boys are growing older (Benjamin is 4½ and Kedrick is almost 2), and with their growing ages come their growing opinions about everything… breakfast included.

When it came to breakfast last Wednesday, my boys’ opinions were clear: Benjamin preferred sausage over eggs and Kedrick preferred eggs over sausage. Each boy picked through his breakfast to gobble up the parts he liked best and left most of the rest on his plate. But one other thing was clear too: neither boy felt full after finishing his own favorite part of breakfast.

More sausage? More eggs?

Sorry boys, that’s it.

Although I didn’t have any more of either food left in the frying pan, a clear solution to this looming hungry kid crisis was obvious to me. But I like to encourage my kids to problem-solve, so I quietly stood back to see what would happen next.

Much to my delight, Benjamin noticed his own plate of leftover scrambled eggs (Kedrick’s favorite) and Kedrick’s plate of leftover sausage (Benjamin’s favorite). He proposed a trade in almost no time flat. Kedrick isn’t very verbal yet, but he excitedly nodded his head in approval of the proposed trade. Plates slid past each other on the breakfast counter, and my boys went back to eating. The whole negotiation was done in under 10 seconds. And this free market capitalist dad beamed with pride.

It’s a pretty simple story, but the light it sheds on the beauty of individual liberty and trade is real. Consider these three fundamental takeaways…