Today my early-20s daughters live in cities. They’ve travelled widely – one backpacking through Southeast Asia, another traipsing around Nicaragua. They understand buses, subways and airports. They’re “city savvy.”
They’ve come along way from their childhood.
Growing up on rural Salt Spring Island, the girls were city innocents. For example, once when they were very little, we went with a group to see a musical in Vancouver. Arriving early, a few of us grabbed food in a restaurant and then strolled back along the sidewalks to the theatre. We came to an intersection and as four solid lanes of cars zoomed passed, little Danica looked up with a worried frown.
“I hope,” she whispered above the roar of engines, “someone will stop for us.”
She had no idea that the stoplight would change, a “walk” signal would emerge and we’d simply walk across the crosswalk.
On a trip to Disneyland a few years later, they became so enthralled with “rides” on the Canadian side of the trip – A ferry with a play area! A bus! Escalators! A moving sidewalk! – they didn’t really need to go to California.
But the girls’ first city bus ride was the most memorable example of rural head butting urban. This occurred when, with great anticipatory enthusiasm, we decided to leave the car at home and bus to Saanich Commonwealth Pool for swimming with Nana.
We raced off the ferry, over stairs, through passageways, up elevators and into the sunny outdoors to be first in line for the double-decker bus that would take us into town. Everything was in order. We were the first to climb aboard, and therefore got our choice of seats.
Eagerly, the girls selected three spots on the upper level of the bus, right at the front, near a big window. The bus engines revved, the girls looked excitedly around them – as if it were the launch of boats at Splash Mountain – and off we went.
The bus motored onto the familiar highway and within a few minutes the girls settled into the routine, the excitement of a new experience slowly subsiding. Then the bus turned off the highway into Sidney. And stopped to pick up passengers. And started. And stopped. Danica and Sierra’s heads whipped around at me.
“What’s going on?” they demanded.
“We’re stopping to get other people who also want to ride this very exciting bus.”
“But we want to go swimming.”
“But we are enjoying this new experience! Isn’t it fun!”
They frowned and looked out the window. They sighed with relief as the bus stopped at a light and they could see the highway again. Then the bus crossed the smooth, straight thoroughfare (which they knew led directly to the pool) and started puttering through West Saanich.
“What?” they cried in unison. “We could be at the pool by now.”
Their faces took on a grumpy sort of look.
About 60 minutes later (it’s a 15-minute drive via highway) we arrived at the pool, met Nana, splashed in the water, jumped off the diving boards.
“Time to catch the bus back to the ferry,” I announced brightly.
The girls stared at me and turned to their grandmother.
“Please, Nana,” they begged with a touch of hysteria. “We’ll pay you to drive us to the ferry.”
So much for citifying country girls.