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The four of us were sitting around last night just talking. The girls have no school today and we let them set up camp in the living room last night, and stay up late. We all ate Valentines Day candy and gossiped. Doesn’t every family do this? Eleanor had received her first box of chocolates from a boy at school yesterday, which prompted a discussion on who we all had crushes on. Josh steered the conversation left and asked, “Who in school has the most attractive parents?” He patiently waited for one of the girls to say, “We do.” Eleanor just looked at him and smiled. “Dad, you guys are the youngest parents. That’s not fair.”

“Okay,” he said. “Who has the ugliest parents?”

Now this required some thought and some discussion. We finally settled on a set of people that Magnolia described this way: “Well, the mom is really tall. The dad is plump and has small eyes, a bald head, and a large mouth. And he’s sort of short.”

Magnolia is nine and clearly she’s the best observer in the house. The description was simple, but effective. She invited us to imagine a very odd couple indeed without overdoing the details. I hope I see this couple in real life! It’s amazing to me what you can learn about writing from a child. (It’s also amazing what you can learn about their friends’ parents. We should all be a little afraid.)

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