Pax is lounging back in his chair, glasses on, ear buds in, eyeing the screen critically. He’s on a Zoom call with his science class. Suddenly, he leans forward and hits unmute. “Question: can the animal be magical?” His little face is serious, listening. After a few seconds he nods, “Yes. Thank you.” He then hits ‘mute,’ and leans back again, blowing a bubble with his gum.
There’s something so life-upside-down about watching your 9-year-old act like some bite-sized businessman on a work call…and then still ask a very 9-year-old question. I was immediately reduced to snorts and giggles and had to leave the room. Good grief.
Pax is very big into unicorns. The very possibility of their existence thrills him. Of course, he has a big brother who is always ready to rain on his imagination parade, but that’s life, kid.
It is interesting, though, this new world we’re in. Pax, in his quest to Prove His Brother Wrong found a series of YouTube videos claiming that unicorns were real. These videos were really well-done, promoting a bunch of “facts” and making it look like those science videos that kids watch in school.
Obviously, this is terrifying.
Raines (our oldest) brought this to our attention at dinner one night. Pax immediately got defensive, I immediately started talking about banning YouTube altogether (hadn’t we done this already? When did they get it back??) and Mike, thank goodness, waited for Pax and I to finish erupting, simultaneously shutting down Raines’ smug “I told you so” comments.
Once he had everyone’s attention, Mike started explaining to Pax what a slippery slope these videos can be. He compared the YouTube unicorn story to conspiracy theories that claim the moon landing was faked. As he’s painstakingly going through a detailed explanation of the basic tenets of that conspiracy theory, Pax cuts in: “EXACTLY, DAD! How DO we know anyone landed on the moon??? IT COULD BE NOT REAL!”
You guys, Mike’s face. I wish I had a photo. My science-minded, engineer husband, the one who worked in aerospace for over a decade, is now attempting to convince our son that the moon landing was real. Talk about an epic backfire.
Pax & The Unicorns: 1, Mike: 0
But Mike isn’t going down without a fight, and with science on the line…I’ve learned to bet on Mike.
Mike pauses for a minute, studying Pax’s face. Then he sighs, and gets up from the table. He walks over to the fridge, opens a beer, and drinks deeply for a few seconds. I snort. Seeing the smirk on my face, Mike shoots me a look. I arch an eyebrow back at him; a challenge. Mike comes back to the table and sits down, his face set. By this point, Pax and Raines are back to bickering.
“Guys!” he says, getting their attention.
Mike waits until we’re all looking at him. “Here’s the thing,” he begins, pausing to push up his glasses. “Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence. In fact, the more extraordinary the claim, the more critical we must be. At a minimum, you must be able to find evidence from at least three–“ and here he holds up three fingers, “–three different reliable sources. And if you can’t find it…” his eyebrows raise above his glasses, “then you should seriously doubt that claim.”
Mike then went on to explain how we do, in fact, know that the moon landing was real. There’s live footage, for one thing. There are actual moon samples that were brought back, and validated in various journals. And on and on.
He then turned to the subject of unicorns. Pax, to his great disappointment, couldn’t even use his one source as an example of ‘evidence’. YouTube videos? Definitely NOT a reliable source. He was crestfallen, poor guy.
But Mike’s phrase has become a family motto of sorts. Something that has come up over and over around the dinner table:
Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.
This phrase has invariably led to discussions about what does constitute a reliable source. Youtube? No. Facebook? No. Wikipedia? Sometimes. And on and on. I keep thinking back to that non-partisan course Checkology, the one that recently opened to the public. This course helps you correctly interpret information and identify bias in reporting, as well as how to tease out fact from fiction. It might be a fun thing to do as a family.
But later that night, as Pax was getting ready for bed, he came and crawled into my lap, his head under my chin, his arms wrapped around my neck. He lifted his face and looked up at me. “I still think unicorns are real, Mom” he said, very softly. There was a pause. Then, “What do you think, Mom?”
I looked down into his earnest little face, his eyes wide and huge in the dark. It felt like I was holding his whole heart and soul in my hands.
“I do, too” I whispered back.
Pax buried his face in my neck, his little arms gripping me tightly, overcome with emotion.
Science, always. But I know that if we raise him to question, if we raise him to be curious, to think critically…I think a little mama magic is OK, too.
Pax’s glasses? He’s been wearing these blue-light blocking glasses, and they do seem to be helping with his headaches. Granted, the science behind the concept isn’t rock-solid, but at this point, I’ve learned not to doubt the power of the placebo effect. Whatever works, man.
Last chance to grab our Voloshin collection…Gang, if you haven’t yet heard the sad news, Philly-based Voloshin is closing their doors. The silver lining is that this decision is partly based on the fact that their sister company, Printfresh, has completely taken off (not surprised — the pajamas are GORGEOUS). This does mean, however, that the 2020 Voloshin X TME shop will be closing this Monday, October 5th. So. If you’d still like to pick something up, we’re offering 70% off(!!) the remaining items (no returns). If you have any questions about sizing, let us know. My favorite piece all summer has been the Bliss bow-shoulder top…but I’ve also set aside — for post-pandemic summer vacations — this linen wrap top and matching skirt in white (size up one size). The set is simply stunning on and will be perfect for travel. Someday, you guys, someday…
Those Anine Bing tees? Like that…but better. Bela, the designer behind Philadelphia-based NINOBrand, has come out with a new line of t-shirts. I’m obsessed. My favorite might be the Amore Organic tee — the vibe and fit are similar to those Anine Bing tees we all love, but Bela’s is sustainable, made from organic cotton, softer, and less expensive. I mean seriously. You can see me rocking it on our IG (@themomedit), here.
Well…that was fast. While it’s true that #NSale items do go back on sale…it’s not usually until December. This year, however, almost all of the Nsale pieces we featured are back on sale now. Including the Clare V bags. My absolute favorite, based on how often I’ve used it, turns out to be this one. (And pick up that Vince t-shirt dress if you haven’t yet. I’ve been wearing it a ton — so polished, yet still just a t-shirt dress.)
I’ve haven’t been this excited about stripes in…a while. I literally swooned when I saw this sweater (very La Ligne, but at a fraction of the cost) and this striped top is so nonchalant French-girl I DIE. Verishop is offering 25% off full-priced clothing orders of $100 or more until Oct 7, so maybe also check out this lace kimono-style jacket if you’re on a roll. I’d wear it exactly as pictured, over jeans & a tank, while having drinks in the kitchen.
Sneak peek. Our October spotlight on products from black-owned-businesses drops this weekend, and I’m especially drawn to this gorgeous choker Cam found. Adding it to my holiday wishlist now. Also of note? This genius Kamala tee. LOVE. (Thanks, Em.)
Thanks, Buzzfeed. I was thrilled to be interviewed for Stephanie McNeal’s latest article, The Era of Influencers Being Apolitical Online Is Over. No one will be surprised to hear that I had some thoughts on this topic. 😉
Need a festive, at-home Halloween idea? How about making these gorgeous chocolate-covered apple slices? Easier to make (and eat) than traditional caramel apples, but looks every bit as fun.
Actually…would at-home Halloween ideas be a good post idea? I know it’s been a big topic of discussion lately. If you guys have come across anything that looks good, throw them in the comments (or just email us email@example.com).
Enjoy your weekend! Stay safe and healthy, and wear that mask.
Yes! I need Halloween ideas! I read somewhere about using PVC pipe as a candy chute for trick-or-treaters. I bought a 10-foot length for my railing. But I need more ideas 🙂
Our halloween plan is to play boardgames by candlelight and eat roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie. Costumes definitely. Treats handed out for various “trick or treat” tasks drawn out of a jar (maybe if I’ve got the energy to come up with more than “draw me a pumpkin” and “sing a halloween song”).
I bought a pumpkin piñata this week and just ordered 50 orange plastic Easter eggs to draw Jack o lantern faces on with black sharpie and then fill with candy and hide in our yard for a pumpkin hunt! 🤞for nice weather! Would love to hear some more ideas for fun Halloween activities. PS – I am OBSESSED with that black lace kimono!
Re Halloween, I was thinking of using gray treat bags and rounding off the top edges to make them look like headstones with RIP/other inscriptions to make a treat graveyard. I could space them out so it wouldn’t be kids crowding at a bowl outside and make a sign explaining to take one. I think our neighborhood will have some trick or treaters, as it is normally a big time Halloween destination. Does that seem cute or too morbid?
1. Yes please, on Halloween ideas. Our eldest is dreaming things up but she’s 9 so…..
2. Did I see the word “long” in a description for the Printfresh pjs? I am definitely coming back to check them out.
ok, 3 things… Pax definitely deserves some Mama magic.
We are working together in our neighborhood to make it safe and fun for the kids. Our plans are for families to set up a table in the driveway and spread candy out on it for kiddos to take. My husband or I will sit six feet back and masked greeting folks. The other will take the kids trick or treating to the other driveways on our street (costumed and masked up). We get to celebrate, greet neighbors, make it special for the kids and stay safe. It won’t be the same (the neighborhood pre-trick or treating bash is off) but it can be fun.
Shana, I love your stories! I look forward to reading them every Sunday morning. This one was especially precious <3
I most look forward to your “Weekend” posts. I, too, have a 9 year old and fully support mama magic. I teared up reading. Please, never, just stick to fashion. XO
I’m 45 years young, and as a child, I never believed in the Easter Bunny or Santa. But I absolutely believed in Unicorns!
I’m Scottish so of course I believe in unicorns – they’re our national animal! Why have a boring real animal when you can have a unicorn?
Unicorns are totally real.
If your son is a reader, and loves unicorns (and magic) may I recommend this series: https://shannonmessenger.com/keeper-of-lost-cities/exile.html
My 4th grader loves them
You seriously just saved me. Pax has only been willing to read graphic novels, but he reads them so quickly…and that costs us a small fortune (especially since his in-school library is currently closed). Based on this recommendation, I downloaded the first book on his kindle and the kid is now HOOKED. So thank you!!!!!!!! A thousand times!!!!!
Shana, thank you so much for the tip on Checkology! We were not familiar with it but think it would be a fantastic add-on to our 7th-grader’s curriculum. She finishes remote learning by 1pm every day so we’re looking for something else for her to do, and at this age she is exploring all kinds of nonsense on the internet.