Bird. Dog. Toddler.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

I feel this duck. I feel him so hard.

Let me set this up. The park I go to is home to a big fishing lake, and the path runs the a good bit of the length alongside of it. Three-fourths of it is out in the open, but the last part of it is surrounded by dense trees and a canopy. It gets dark, y'all. It's hella scary to be in alone, so I make myself run that part. (Who knew fear of being abducted would be a fitness aid?) I call it The Corridor and start it first before dusk abandons me. About twenty feet away from the entrance is a small playground on the one side and a dock further down on the other.

There are about 5 or so people hanging on the dock, and a few kids on the playground. As I'm walking towards the Corridor, a mom, two dogs (unleashed, wtf,) and two children pass in front of me. The littlest says hi, so I wave and say hi back. I put my headphones in, start powerwalking, and then hit a slow lope as I enter the Dark Beyond. Three minutes or so later, my music switches songs, and I hear the crunch of gravel behind me. LITTLE NINJA CHILD. No adult in sight at all. I ask him where his mommy is, he flings his tiny arm waaaaay back towards the beginning, and I promptly whisk him the way we came. I'm panicking slightly not because a small child has wandered away from his family but because what if his supervisory unit thinks I've tried to abscond with this adorable daredevil? Or what if I'm yelled at because I didn't notice him sooner? What if OMG?!

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I don't let this kid out of my sight until all of the people that I passed on my way in are visible. The kid runs off towards them, I give a general slightly sheepish wave, and turn back to go about my now anxiety-filled panic-giggling way.

I am trying so hard not to put on my judgy pants as I have no idea what it's like to be a parent with a kid that runs off while you have dogs and another child to herd. (I'm assuming the lady adult I passed was the mom versus one of the adults on the dock.) You obviously only have so many hands, and legs, and lung power. But, y'all, it was half a mile that this kid ran with me and no one came after him. Not even when I was returning the child did it appear as if an adult were making haste in our direction.

I'm traumatized, ran more than usual thanks to this, and am now wondering what the hell is going to follow me tomorrow night.