City Parent Corner: A Universe Through The Cracks

City Parent Corner: A Universe Through The Cracks
Courtesy Matthew Bowden
Courtesy Matthew Bowden


Over dinner, back before we had kids, a friend told me about a man who spent his entire career studying sea turtles. The group of us laughed, asking how a person could spend an entire career studying one thing – wouldn’t he get bored at some point?

“That’s what I asked,” my friend shared, “but he said that as he studied, he compared the experience to approaching a brick wall. The closer he came, the more details were revealed.

“As he continued exploring,” said my friend, “he saw tiny cracks in the construction of the wall. If you get close enough, you can look through the cracks and see the universe.”

This anecdote popped into my head recently, while I gathered with my family around our own dinner table. My son and daughter were feeding each other rice, which mostly ended up on the floor.

I dodged the flying bits of food, longing for leisurely dinners and intellectual conversation, and tried to lap up my soup before the requisite cleaning had to commence.

Sometimes, in the chaos of the moment, when my agenda is clearly set on survival, it’s difficult to imagine seeing anything beyond the wake of two active children.

These sentiments are often echoed in my well-meaning staff of teachers.

“I have a curriculum to get through,” they say. “How can I teach when the kids are distracted? How can I compete with the ever evolving psycho-drama that is present in so many classes?”

I see the frustration in the eyes of my teachers, and then I see the students’ hunger to find something that makes sense to them.

Our young people instinctively search for a world that makes sense. Naturally, they are reaching towards the so-called cracks to see the universe.

In the world of education, we are called to mobilize these inherent childhood desires to find teachable moments – opportunities that organically arise to amplify learning. The concept sounds so common sense, but the moments are so elusive.

As I contemplated the advice I would give my teachers, I realized the teachable moments are much closer for us, as parents, to grasp and explore.

Take the tale of the rice. My little ones are using every sense to explore every tiny grain – the taste, color, and texture of the food. They experiment with the concept of sharing, and exploring the boundaries of what is and is not an acceptable portion of food. They witness the grains falling from their pudgy fists and onto the table and floor.

What it means to eat, to share, to experience being a sibling is wrapped up in that mess, and while contemplating the mess before me, I’m missing a moment to share in their feeding, bonding, and humor development.

That mess was a teachable moment, a chance for me to share the discoveries of the world, captured in a grain of rice.

These teachable moments are not limited to the perpetual mess that accompanies daily life with kids. Cyber-mediums, from computers and tablets to every other area of our rapidly expanding digital landscape, open up a world of opportunities for teachable moments – for parents and educators alike.

Being present in the moment alongside your child, to see and rediscover the world through those eyes, offers infinite chances to slip the bonds of the every day and see – really see – the world.

Even after a decade in education, the moments sometimes elude me, but the wonderful thing about parenthood is that teachable moments are evergreen.

Sometimes an adventure of the senses can be isolated on a single moment, and in the space between inhaling and exhaling, we can look into our children’s eyes and see the universe.

City Kid Corner is looking for articles that reflect the joys, struggles, and hijinks of this crazy ride we call parenthood. Do you have a story that you’d like to share? Email your submissions to