Posted by: Kate | March 6, 2009

The Marble Maze

Yesterday, Jacob and I picked up my father (he lives about 45 minutes away now, with his girlfriend of nigh-on three years; it’s a relationship I accept without understanding or – gawd – visualizing) and went down to the Museum of Science in Boston.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, we did just go down there last week.  But Jacob has talked about the “marble maze” (a kinetic sculpture of pool balls and various tracks they can follow to circle through it) nonstop since then, and he was dying to go again.

The boy has a vastly greater tolerance for standing still and watching this marble maze than I do.  And I realized, watching the crowd yesterday, that this is totally a little-boy thing.  There were at least three or four little boys, at any given time, with noses pressed to the glass, just watching.  Preternaturally silent, watching the machine lift the balls to the top, randomizing them to one of four or five possible tracks, and then allowing gravity to get them back to the bottom again.  It was almost cultlike, and if we were to install one in our house, I think I could probably go days at a time without interacting with the boy outside of meals.

Little girls and moms were much less interested; they would stop, look for a few minutes, and wander on.  But the little boys would stick, watching intently, for just as long as they could.  And the dads, too, though the dads were a little easier to distract away to other exhibits after a while.

Happily, I brought knitting, so I didn’t simply slip into a coma.  And Jacob is already asking when we can go again.  Happily, we have a national membership thing, so going only involves the cost of gas and parking… and a little maternal boredom, but so be it.



  1. Do you wish you had one at home – just for those crazy days when you need a “little” peace and quiet?

  2. Adam too. Every time we go (and we go pretty often since we have a membership- let me know when you’re going again, perhaps I can keep you company while the boys are enthralled) he stands there until I pull him away.

  3. Phew. Since I went offline, I discovered how wonderfully knitting fills in all the gaps – riding the bus, watching borrrrrring teevee shows, putting up with family gatherings – you name it, knitting has saved many people from seeing a wild-eyed, ranting woman tell everyone to STFU. Of course, much of that was because I was in recovery from my ‘Net addiction. I am back, BTW. Missed you!

  4. I am in Boston right now! My two coworkers and I spent all day getting lost on the public transit system yesterday. We probably passed you at some point – I’m pretty sure we saw the entire city without really meaning to.

  5. Not a four-year old boy…but I am capable of sitting there, mesmerized, for quite some time myself!

    And my family won’t go to the zoo with me any more either — I sit there in front of the gorills, camera in hand, for literally HOURS…

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