I saw true fear last night in the eye’s of a mother.

Nick and I were at the playground trying out the “Big-Boy Swing” when I saw two little children run out of a back alley and down the sidewalk. I’ve never been particularly good at guessing the ages of children, but it struck me that these kids were way too little to be out on their own. I watched them for a few seconds and then they went back the way that they had come from.

As Nick and I played the boys came back once more. They made quite an impression on me. They were too small to be out running around in my opinion, especially up against a busy road. There was no parent nearby. I contemplated whether I should walk across the park and tell them to go home, then decided against it. They ran away again.

About 10 minutes later I saw a little girl (maybe 10?) running around on that side of the street. She ran across the park and asked me if I had seen two little boys. My heart sank. I told her that I had seen them, and the direction that they had run.

Nick and I left the park, and as I buckled him into his car seat I saw the mother looking around. I told her I was driving in the direction that she was looking, and asked her for her phone number in case I found the boys. She told me that she was going to be phoning the police for help, and gave me her address. She was obviously upset.

The good news: The boys were found. But it raised a few questions in my mind. Should I have talked to the boys? Should I have told them not to play there, or taken them home?

I pray that if Nick were ever lost that a kind stranger would rescue them. At the same time, I would be upset if some stranger walked up to them while they were playing in front of my house (remember, I didn’t know if the kids were right outside their house, or miles away from home).

I’d like to ask you: What would you have done? Left the boys alone? Talked to them? Called the police? Where do you draw the line when it comes to talking to other people’s children? What if they hadn’t been playing on the street, but instead running around in the mall, or hitting someone at the playground?

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs