When my daughter was around 3 years old, we arrived in the parking lot of a local department store. As we exited our vehicle, I immediately took hold of her hand, as was always required when being anywhere but home. As she held firmly to my hand, she twirled, skipped, and hopped, in excitement as we headed through the parking lot towards the store.
A few rows in front of us, a tall young man of about 6'3" and a slender woman were exiting their vehicle, and the other parked cars blocked most of their view from us. As we rounded the vehicles located a couple of rows behind them, my daughter caught a glimpse of the man's legs and backside as he leaned back into his vehicle to retrieve an item. She caught me completely off guard, broke loose from my grip, and started into a full mad dash, while occasionally glancing over her shoulder and smiling to see if I was watching, and to ensure she wasn’t in trouble for letting go of my hand, as she excitedly continued towards the man.
By this time, the man in the vehicle had retrieved his item, and now stood completely up right getting ready to head towards the store. After finally reaching her destination, she placed both of her little hands on his thighs which was as high up as she could reach for her height, and turned to smile at me again. I still being completely shaken from her freedom marathon in the busy parking lot am now thinking to myself. "What the heck is she doing, we don't know these people." Still smiling at me, she turns again towards the man, pats the stranger’s thighs with her hands and turns to me and says, “Look Mom.”
By then, my face had to have been blood red from both fear and embarrassment, and apparently she finally noticed the look of confusion on my face that had been there since the start. The female who had come with the man, had by then had made her way around to his side of the vehicle next to him, and was standing there with a look of confusion, as well.
My daughter turns back towards the man still smiling, her little hands still resting on his thighs, only this time she decides to turn her head upward in order to see the man’s face. As her eyes reaches his face, her smile suddenly fades, and she shakes her head No. She turns back towards me with a pitiful look on her face like she was about to cry and said, “Oh, that’s not my daddy, is it Momma?” The woman accompanying the man immediately looks him dead in the eyes and says, “You’re not her Daddy, are you HUNY?” I said to my daughter, “No Sweetie that’s not your Daddy, your daddy’s at home,” and the woman said to the man, “Lucky for you her Daddy’s at home because he just saved your life.” LOL, needless to say, a much tighter grip on her hand was used from that day forward.