The Bridge Of My Childhood

I can still smell the scent of the pine trees that landscaped the backyard of my grandparent’s home. When I close my eyes, I can see the brilliant shades of green that flow throughout the yard. Once I left the patio, I would walk across the lawn and view the ivy garden. Beyond that, pine trees placed along the fence line.

Grandpa’s yard was not your regular backyard. In the middle of this canvas of green splendor, was a bright red bridge, built over the ivy garden and used as a means to get to the shaded area in the back of the yard.

When my grandpa built the bridge, he probably did so more out of a hobby, but now I find myself wondering if he ever realized how much joy it would bring his grandchildren when they would visit. The doors that bridge unlocked to our imaginations were beyond number and memories that I cherish today.

Bridge To Imagination and Adventure

This bridge was a place my brother and I would live out our various adventures and many narrow escapes. The bridge became a pirate ship, where we were held captive by angry pirates looking for gold. With quick actions and a careful eye, we were able to jump overboard and swim to an island for safety. We also turned the bridge into a famous one. The bridge became the place where the wicked troll lived. But our troll wasn’t interested in billy goats; he wanted to take all the children who crossed the bridge and kept them for his slaves.

As I got older, the bridge would be a place of refuge for me. When I got into trouble or had a falling out with my parents, or when I just felt like being alone. You could find me sitting on the red bridge. It was a safe place for me when I was lonely or afraid, or just when things seemed to be confusing.

I knew Grandpa’s bridge would be there, even if at times it was only in my mind.

Many years have passed now, but every so often my thoughts go back to Grandpa’s bridge, and it still brings me peace and fond memories. There are times I wish I could travel back to that bridge, but I know, like Grandpa, it is long gone.

The childhood memories and time spent with my brother cause me to smile and wish that children today weren’t so busy with the electronic age. Their minds are filled with things that limit them from using their imagination. On any given day, I can see children carting around their iPads, smartphones, and other gaming devices. If their Kindles aren’t charged, or the internet is slow, they appear to have no idea what to do with themselves. Telling a child to go outside and play is more like a punishment to them than an adventure, and their response often is “There is nothing to do outside.”

Bridging The Gap

I believe technology is a wonderful thing, and it opens doors to other parts of the world that our children may never see in their lifetime. But, I also think we need to find a healthy balance for this generation between the electronic world and the outside world.

Getting kids to go outside may take more effort in the beginning, and you will probably hear a lot of whining and complaining at first. You may even need to go out with them to set the example and show them there are many things to do while enjoying the great outdoors.

Find a place in the yard to help them create their own garden or build a fort. Play a family game of kickball or have a water balloon fight.

The possibilities are endless when we spend time outdoors.

My backyard has several birdhouses that my grandchildren helped build and paint, and there are a few birds that come every year to take up residence and have their babies. Each Spring when the grandkids come over, they check on those birdhouses and are full of smiles when they hear the baby birds chirping away inside.

The benefits of encouraging our kids to go outside are endless. Not only will they be taking time away from the digital world that they know so well, but they will be developing skills to use later in life while creating wonderful memories of time spent building bridges and birdhouses.

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