• Stephanie Hammond

Time with Cooper

Cooper is 2-years-old and lives in Auckland. He was visiting his grandparents on Waiheke Island last weekend and we got to spend more time with him. We last saw him briefly last April. Cooper has a ferocious curiosity that reminds me of what it’s like to be a child. It’s a quality I’ve sought to recapture as an adult and one which I enjoy indulging in.

It was delightful to spend a few hours in his company, sharing his delight in discovery. This toy is a cassette player and still works - when it’s plugged into the power. Cooper doesn’t know that. He enjoyed exploring what the buttons did.

On one try, he found out the green button opened the cassette holder. He took the cassette out and tried to put it back in but it was too intricate for him. This is when I joined him, guiding his little fingers. We sat on the floor for ages. He pushed the green button and the cassette holder opened. He tried to put it back and succeeded with a little help. He did it again and again, delighted each time he could close the cassette and delighted each time it opened again. He didn’t quite master it but he never gave up until his attention was diverted all together.

I’ve pondered over my time with Cooper. The joy of being with a little one as a grandmother or a great grandmother is extremely satisfying. Satisfying in a totally different way to the satisfaction of being a mother. Nappy changing, bathing, feeding, putting to bed - I have no responsibility for any of these. Just all the joy of playing and watching and being with him in his own discovery of his world and how he fits into it.

I am enthralled and humbled by Cooper’s amazing ability to stay focused and find delight in the process of learning. For a long time yet, he will be learning new skills. He looks and listens and tries things out. Things he’s already mastered quickly become integrated into his way of being in the world. He walks and runs. He talks, not full sentences yet, but he’s adding to his vocabulary every moment. He knows how to ask for what he wants. And he knows how to refuse something he doesn’t want. He knows he likes cows. He knows he’s learning to be more comfortable around dogs. He knows he likes ice-cream. He knows when he’s hungry or thirsty.

Cooper gave me a lot during our short visit with him. The years dropped away and I saw

a grandchild who also had this ferocious curiosity for life and learning.

And I saw my own children at this stage in their development. And I remembered the joys of being a young mother in amongst all the busyness that surrounds that time. The memories are wonderful. Cooper will grow up, as all toddlers do, and his personality will develop more and more. I will always see this part of him in the man he becomes, just as I still see the little boy in both of my own sons. I’m so grateful to have such a big heart, metaphysically speaking, with lots of little pockets full of love and memories. There is now an additional pocket with these memories of Cooper.

And a photo as well!

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