Some mornings I snuggle my daughter and think to myself “what learning opportunities can I provide today to help shape you into a strong independent woman?” Other mornings I rub my temples and exclaim “It’s a bridge day!”
Despite only being 1,119 feet long…..in the last decade, I’ve stretched MILES of fun out of Saskatoon’s Train Bridge (#wordplay #selfhighfive #timeforaraisefamilyfuncanada).
Even without a train whizzing by (less than two feet from your shoulder)- crossing the bridge’s narrow, wooden pedestrian walkway is a complete trip. As an adult, it can be harrowing, as a kid, it’s downright terrifying. If you think I’m exaggerating- look at this picture- this is something out of a cartoon.
But that’s the foundation of an amazing journey.
This bridge is something straight out of a fairytale, so when my son was 3, I happily ran with it. The Train bridge (actually named The CP Railway Bridge) goes overtop one of the busier intersections in our city and the original staircase leading to the pedestrian walkway is on the west side (and non-river side of the street), which resulted in a constant jaywalking bonanza. To thwart that, about 15 years ago the city built a giant industrial steel staircase on the East of the street- rendering the original staircase pretty much vacant…but still useable. Six years ago if you had gained the trust of my wide-eyed 4-year-old son, he might have whispered to you the lore of the ‘secret staircase’ that only he and his dad knew about.
The fairytale didn’t stop there.
If you cross the bridge, a bike path leads towards the University but along the way, you pass a field full of giant creepy statues and sculptures. Imagine stumbling upon them with your kid and “having no idea where they came from or who made them!!”
Finally, the mind-blowing conclusion comes when you leave the bridge altogether and travel half a block West on 33rd where you find A TUNNEL THAT LEADS TO A ‘SECRET’ PARK. Yes, there are dozens of more practical and efficient ways to get to Wilson Park, but straight-up lying to your child and telling them A TUNNEL is the only way in and out of this particular area is next level Santa Claus/Easter Bunny rewarding.
I realize this whole article is a story of how I basically lied to my son, but kids are smart, and by the next summer the magic was gone…he wasn’t so gullible anymore. There is a very small window you can pull something like this off, so no, I don’t feel any guilt over my parental deception, in fact- ‘The Summer of Bridging Lies’ is one of my favorite memories.
Looking through old photos last spring, I stumbled across a picture of my son atop one of the giant sculptures. I spun the laptop around to face my now 11-year-old who looked up from Youtube, and his face lit up. Without saying a word, he looked over at his two-year-old sister, back at me, nodded and buried his face back into his tablet.