“Mom, are unicorns real?”
Mae, just seven years old, was staring up at me-hopeful, earnestly asking if the mythical creature that clutters her room was real. Could there possibly be a chance we could find one in the woods? Might there be one up in Wisconsin that we could spot on the way to grandma and grandpas? Surely there could be. Please, please, please mommy, tell me that unicorns are real…
“No. They’re not.”
In the split second I had to make my parenting decision, I decided to put my foot down. We already have the Tooth Fairy, Santa, the Easter Bunny, traps for leprechauns and that goddamn Elf on the shelf, (which I held off getting as long as I could, and then Mae wrote a letter to Santa requesting one).
Thing is, did I really need to add unicorns in? What would that lead to? Glitter in the woods. A magic potion to attract a unicorn herd. Secret songs that only unicorns could hear. Trips to Hobby Lobby to buy thousands of dollars worth of pink stuff to construct a trap big enough to hold a unicorn. I told her the truth thinking she would be disappointed but eventually come to grips with it. She looked right back up at me and said, “Well, I think they’re real and I’m gonna find one.” Direct translation- “Suck it, mom. I’m going rogue.”
I’ve been proud of Mae for a lot of things, but I have to say, standing up to me about unicorns makes me the most proud. Because, if there is one thing I want my daughter to do, it’s to follow her heart. If someone tells you (even your own mother) that unicorns aren’t real, maybe it’s because they’ve never tried to find one. Maybe they searched in the wrong place. Maybe they put together the wrong concoction of glitter and pink scraps. Or maybe they just gave up right when they were about to spot one.
The more I thought about her belief in unicorns and her indignant response, the more I started to question myself. Just because I've never seen a unicorn doesn't mean they aren't real.
As I stared down at my little dreamer, I couldn’t help but think of the things in my life that people said weren’t attainable- all the unicorn truth bombs that I dodged in pursuit of my dreams.
“I think you're right, Mae. I've just never seen one.” And with that, hope was restored in both of us.
We’re still looking. We did see one on the internet, but that's not the same as real life.
We’ve made traps.
We talk about what it would be like to fly on one.
We wonder where they all hang out and how they talk to each other.
We think the horn is very special, but we’re not sure what magical powers it possesses. Maybe when you touch it you get to become a unicorn for a day. Or you see the secret place where they all hang out, so you can find them again. Or your skin turns rainbow.
We do know for sure that If you clip unicorn hair and keep it in your pocket, it keeps you safe, and if you eat unicorn poop it’s like cotton candy and it makes you fly. And that is never ok to eat a unicorn. If you do, you go straight to hell.
The thing is, when you believe in unicorns, anything is possible-anything can be. As long as there is something beautiful, amazing, wonderful and full of magic out there to chase, we'll never stop searching...
In honor of Juliann Schrader, the first unicorn hunter.