Wednesday, April 23, 2014


My theme for A to Z this year is a wildly different, but very exciting, HERE'S TO YOU all month long. 26 posts to be precise. The most difficult part was narrowing down the 26. All of you deserve your own post. What you will find here is a post by the featured blogger, with traveling music chosen by me that complements said post, and two links. One will link back to the original post and the other to the main page. This year's A to Z is all about making new friends!

Thinking The Lions is written by Brianne Pagel or Brianne P.  I am pretty sure he'll answer to either one. I discovered this amazing blog during the Coffee Bloghop that I mentioned on my "M" post for this challenge. I loved loved loved Brianne's writing style and immediately followed. Brianne also runs another blog called lit. He is participating in the A to Z challenge on that blog and will PAY WRITERS FOR THEIR STORIES, which he features there. Check out lit if you are interested in submitting a story.

What else? He makes a mean macaroni pizza and he started blogging back in 2005. Interestingly enough, he wrote a total of 9 blogs from 2005-2007. In 2008 the fun began and Brianne's been a blogging fiend since. He racked up 878 posts just in 2009. I still haven't written 878 posts. Way to go, Brianne!

Cue the traveling music:

To The parents of the kids who played "Duck Duck Goose" with Mr. Bunches tonight (and the kids) (Life With Unicorns) by Brianne Pagel

It probably didn't seem like that big a deal to you.

You both had your sets of kids there, in the McDonald's Playland, and your kids all obviously knew each other and got along together, so when Mr Bunches showed up ready to play, you maybe didn't even notice him and if you did notice him it probably didn't seem all that important to you that this other little kid was suddenly there, playing on the slides and mixing in with all of your kids.

You maybe didn't notice, but I did.  As I sat with Mr F, eating our dinner and watching Mr Bunches watch this group of kids that was playing together and all knew each other, I saw, again, as I have so many times before, that Mr Bunches wanted to be part of the game.

And I expected, as so many times before, that he would not.

He never gets to be part of the game, not really, not like other kids can just join in, because while you don't always pick up on it right away and it's hard to notice on a busy noisy playground, Mr Bunches doesn't quite know how. He's not quite sure how to join in and his comments and his reactions and his mannerisms mark him as different. He calls kids "Kid," or "baby" or "girl," and when we remind him to tell them his name, or ask their name, he (as often as not) says "Tell my name" or something else, and that's only the beginning of how he is different, a difference kids pick up on far faster than adults.

Pick up on, and walk away from, as often as not.

So tonight I figured that he would want to join in the slide game, and that he would not get to, that he would hang out on the fringes of the slide game, as he'd hung out on the fringes of so many games before, tag, chase, guns, baseball, and that eventually he would realize that he was not part of the game, no matter how much he wanted to be, and he would drift away, and I would play with him instead, to cheer him up (a poor substitute, a daddy clambering around with Mr F in tow, to keep Mr F from running away, trying to slide or play tag, but what is to be done? He wants to slide and play tag and nobody else will, as often as not.)

But your kids, those kids, you kids, didn't exclude him.  Instead, you let him into the slide game -- letting him slide into you at the bottom of the slide the way you were doing to each other, and sliding into him, too, making him part of the game.

I don't know what you made of it when his voice rang out above the clamor of the Playland:


but I know what I made of it: he was happy and he was part of the game and you did that.

That wasn't even the best part.

Then, when all the kids decided to play Duck Duck Goose, one of the girls grabbed Mr Bunches by the arm and put him in the circle, where the other kids had left a space for him.

Left a space for him! Brought him in! And then tagged him and made him the goose and when he didn't catch the boy before he got around the circle, watched and smiled and giggled as Mr Bunches went around the circle:

duck duck duck duck goose

and one of the kids got up and chased him and tagged him, and everyone laughed, even Mr Bunches.

But that wasn't even the best part, either.

The best part came three turns later, when Mr Bunches, who isn't very fast, couldn't avoid getting tagged.  Four times in a row he was the goose, four times in a row he couldn't get around the circle before getting tagged, four times! He wasn't upset, he wasn't sad, but he was a little concerned: He couldn't stop being the goose and he wanted to be in the circle. He wasn't sure what to do. I could tell.

I watched.

And one of the other girls said "Pick me."

I watched.

Mr Bunches picked her.

He said

duck duck duck duck goose

and he took off running in his Mr Bunches way, and the girl stood up and made a show of going after him and reached out her hand and almost almost almost touched him

(she could totally have touched him)

and he got around the circle to where they began and I yelled it too,

"Sit down!"

as three of the other kids said the same thing, and he sat down.



Part of the group.

You probably didn't think anything of it, this little boy who was a little strange, maybe, coming into the Playland and jumping into the game with your kids and being helped out.

But I did, and I meant it when, at the end, I said "Tell your kids thanks for playing with him."

We went home, and saw Sweetie, and I said "Tell Mommy what you did," and Mr Bunches, still red-faced and flushed with excitement said:

"I had friends!"

It probably didn't seem like that big a deal to you.

But it was huge for us.

So thanks again.

If you're anything like me, you need a tissue really badly right about now. And you might even be thinking, "Why didn't you warn me that would make me cry?" The long and short answer is that I didn't get a warning when I read it the first time, either. You just don't know what you'll get on this blog. You might be holding your sides from laughing or bawling your eyes out. Anyway, I gotta go. I can't see for all of the tears in my eyes.


  1. It took me a little while to pick up on what was happening there, what with the names Mr. Bunches and Mr. F, and something called 'Duck, Duck, Goose' (that's a new one on me), but I finally figured it out.

    Quite a moving story.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  2. What a heartbreaking post. Sadly relatable in many ways, but what a triumph. :)

  3. Kids in their natural state can usually sort things out pretty well and have a greater value of accepting others. Somehow it's the adults that screw things up. Lovely story.

    It's been some time since I've been to Brianne's site and I didn't realize what a power blogger he his. I often enjoy the comments he leaves at Andrew Leon's site.

    However, the concept of macaroni pizza frightens me.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  4. Such an inspiring read for anyone who feels left out. I wish I'd read something like this in grade school. :)

  5. Yep. I need a tissue. What a sweet story about Mr. Bunches. Glad he found some friends!

  6. Tissues all around. I hope I raised my children to be 'those' kids who would have pulled Mr. Bunches into the game. I hope 'those' kids grow up to lead the world one day.

  7. Oooh I love this. I need to visit that blog. I don't think I have.

  8. I went and had to follow on Google plus. I can relate with this story a lot with my son. Good stuff.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

  9. To a child, fitting in is the most important thing. A touching story, one I've seen too, but they don't always end so well. I've stepped in when I see others pushing in line past those younger, less quick, etc. If the parents can't or do not make the kids behave in an orderly fashion, I will. No parent has ever came over and told me not to make their kids behave. I worked with preschoolers for one summer, and I'm a parent. The things that are taught when young stay with us.

  10. Yeah, Robin, I'm bawling my eyes out right now. can't even see the message I'm posting. I'm sharing this one on Facebook.

  11. Started crying and had to stop reading. Just too poignant and powerful for me. No time to bawl my eyes out...and if I start, I may never stop.

  12. That was a great post to choose. Especially since I probably would have chose the exploding garage door. Or something else that has made me spew while reading.

  13. Goodness! It's been a long time since I visited Brianne's blog. Thanks for reminding me.

    Author of Wilder Mage at Spirit Called
    Facebook Wilder Mage

  14. Kids just play and don't seem to notice much. I had to start the story twice as I thought it was a little hard to get into, but once there, I enjoyed it very much.

  15. I just love this. So glad that there are still lots of great kids (and parents) out there who reach out to others,

  16. Oh lovely, lovely. Such heart, and hurt and gut wrenching truth in these words. Oh yes, I will head over. Oh yes, I will follow.

  17. Dang, I've got tears in my eyes and my heart is bursting with joy for this kid who finally, happily, got to say, "I had friends!"

  18. Tears in my eyes? Are you kidding? They ran all the way to my shirt!!

  19. awwwww! i hate it when that happens (the teary eyes, i mean)
    almost thru the challenge!

  20. Ohhh, you should have put the Kleenex warning up!!! Robin!!

    Great writer, great story. I'm headed over to say hello. :)


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