Saturday, July 3, 2010

Don't Try This at Home

Recently I was presented with an offer I couldn't refuse. Someone needed some items from somewhere and they would pay me to get them.

The "somewhere" was Woodson Research Center (WRC), which is the special archives section of the library at Rice University. I've always wanted to go there, but never had a reason. It's an archive, so you can't just browse the shelves. Now I had a list and a purpose.

The problem? My usual child care connection (aka school) was closed for the summer. My kid isn't old enough to stay home alone, but he is old enough to behave in fancy places. Should I take the chance? Did I have a choice?

The morning of the trip, I filled my bag with entertainment suitable for a tween. On impulse, I also included my netbook just in case there was free wifi.

Staff at the WRC were very nice. They got me situated (locker, pencil, lessons on how to use the scanner & copier). Then I got my son situated. He had his Nintendo ("Mute it," I said), his comic books and--praise the Lord--Internet on my netbook thanks to free wifi in the library.

After three hours of document retrieval and scanning (and scanning, and scanning), the boy and I took a lunch break. We found our way to the university food court and took in the atmosphere. I really think my son liked the "grown-up" experience of hanging out at a college, especially this casual area that was louder and more relaxing than the WRC.

After lunch we headed back to the windowless archive area where I asked that he sit there and entertain himself for another three hours. And you know what? He did. Awesome kid.

So when you ask what I'll be doing on July 5th, the government recognized Independence holiday, I will tell you that I am going to be sitting in a car, waiting for trains. Because that's what my son loves, and I owe him one.

And when you ask what I'm doing next week I'll tell you that I have to go back to the WRC one more time and my son is coming with me. I'm not trying to tempt fate. I'm just determined to finish this project in a timely manner.

Wish us luck.


  1. Very cool! I don't think my 16 year old son could stay entertained that long. When he was younger, I did use to take him with me to cemeteries when I did volunteer photography of tombstones for Find A Grave. We'd go to the office and get directions to the grave, with a map, but it still took some hunting. I'd pay him a dollar if he found the grave before me. Worked every time! :-)

  2. You son is a great kid. It will be interesting in 3 years how he will look back at it. I am so excited. You just told me where I need to go to find some letters that are related to our Alamo relative. I thank you so much. BTW do you have to have an appointment? Are they like Clayton and diminished in hours?

  3. That's one great kid you have there!

  4. Hummer, you do not need to have an appointment. Their hours are stated on the web site, but I would contact them to confirm all the details before you go. They made me aware of the special reduced hours they had for the 4th of July weekend. Glad I was able to help!

  5. Great kid, but it's nice to have something to trade. Also good to have a traveling companion and chance to talk.sphillyg

  6. Not too long ago I found some notes my now 32 yr old son (he was born when I was 12) took at the archives when we were there. He was probably about your son's age and he'd copied some bibliographic info and a couple of marriages. I got all verklempt when I realized how long ago that was and what a good kid he was. He's now a librarian in an urban main library and loves his job! I take no credit. :-)

  7. Well done to the two of you on your mutual agreement to indulge each other's interests :-) Jo

  8. Amy you are so lucky to have such a great kid.

    I, however, have 3 boys (who are now grown) and had I attempted such a feat I would have had to chain them to the bike rack out front and hope it would not rain.

    I was somewhat lucky when I took all three to the Monterey Bay Aquarium when they were younger. It was the days before "child leashes" and not wanting to lose any of them, I took my husband's belt, looped it through all three of their pants loops and Voila - I did not lose a single one of them. At least not on that day.

  9. What a great child!

    I had a similar experience with my now college daughter a few years ago only I was researching my family. I bribed her by paying her to help me look items up in the University of Colorado Archives. The interesting thing was she liked the campus and when she started seriously looking at colleges, guess where she decided to go. Yep, she is now a CU student. We love visiting her - for more than one reason.

    Moral of story - you never know where these things will lead.

    Sheri - we love the Montery Bay Aquarium!

  10. I can relate to this story...My two sons accompany me to cemeteries, libraries, museums, etc., in the line of my fun. I admit bribery works, especially when it involves ice cream! Great story, thanks for sharing!

  11. It is nice to get that access to internet and you had one to let him have. Sometimes they have some free that they can use. I know my kids would love being on the internet that long. I myself would have wanted to browse a little if there were anything there.
    Your a great mom to indulge his interest too. He'll probably make a great husband someday, cause you have trained him so well.
    Hope you had a nice fourth.