A while ago, en route to Cape Town by car, we stopped at a filling station to refuel. I was in the front passenger seat and, as we pulled up to the pumps, out of the corner of my eye I noticed another parked vehicle with a young girl of about 13 or 14 sitting in the back seat.
Less than a minute later the girl got out of the car, walked to within about 10 meters of me, thrust out her already ample boobs and, smiling broadly, looked straight into my eyes.
I stared at her for a second or two then turned away, - unsmiling.
Whatever her reason for singling me out for her attentions, (it's probable that, having reached puberty, she was testing her femininity), I felt deeply ashamed of myself for not returning her smile.
I'm not an unfriendly person and obviously I was in no danger of being seduced. So why could I not smile back, just acknowledge her presence?
The truth is that I was afraid that someone might see me smile at her and take me for a pedophile, - as simple as that.
We often hear how sexual predators are usually the most unlikely suspects, the 'Mr Cleans'; of children being abused by the very people entrusted to take care of them. I think that this has led some adults to be wary about being too friendly with kids.
This was not the first time I've shunned contact with children for fear that my intentions could be misinterpreted: The local boy and girl Scout troops sometimes camped at my smallholding and, while they were there, unless specifically asked to give a talk on nature, I stayed inside and avoided contact with them.
What has happened in our society, when we are afraid to communicate and share life experiences with children because of others' perversions?
Am I being unduly paranoid? Do any of you have the same fears and, how do you deal with it?
A pox on pedophiles for destroying our relationships with kids.