Heads up local parents!
Today at Campbell Park during Baby Boot Camp (about 11am), a man was hiding behind the bushes on the steps near the basketball courts. He was calling out to the kids and trying to get them to come with him. But, from where us Moms were, we couldn't see anyone at all.
The kids were all running around playing right next to us while we exercised, as usual. Sometimes they started to wander a bit, but we kept our eyes on them and called them back when they did. My son, Joey is only 15 months old though, so he isn't the best listener. When he didn't listen to me calling him to come back, I took off running after him. I could tell he was watching someone or something and didn't see what it was until I caught up with him. By the time I scooped up my son, he was only about 6 feet away from this man! The man was very suprised to see me and basically froze in place. All kinds of internal alarm bells went off, so I grabbed my son and ran back to the group and told them all what was going on.
The instuctor of the group ran him off and I made a report with Campbell PD. They were very thorough in their questioning of me and I did the best I could to answer all their questions. They immediately sent officers to the scene to check around and said they will be patrolling the area more closely. The officer I spoke to was very kind and told me that if this (or anything similar) happens to call 911 immediately.
I am still shaken from this. We all think that it will never happen to us. We all think we are careful and cautious parents. We all think we know what we would do or how we would react in certain situations. But, I'm here to tell you otherwise. If you read the Mom Squad column at all, you know what kind of Mom I am. I am a good Mom, and a bad thing (almost) happened anyway. That's life. It's real and it can be scary. Please keep your eyes on your kids, follow that gut instinct we all have, and hug your kids a little more tonight and every night.
My sweet little boy is home safely sleeping in his bed, blissfully unaware of what (almost) happened today. I am forever changed because of this, and I do not wish this to happen to anyone else EVER.