Sunday afternoon, at home on my mobile
Ping! Hayley’s posted more photos on Facebook from New Year’s Eve.
She went to stay with a mate for the celebrations – a sign of the times, Hayley being 17 now and it being far too boring at home with the folks.
The photos show Hayley and friends, a happy bunch, all glamour and smiles for their group shots.
Scrolling through, I can tell that she was feeling confident as she got ready to party with her friends and others, friends of friends she’d never met before.
I know because her hair is in an ‘up’ do.
It’s often possible to gauge Hayley’s confidence levels by her hairstyle, up or down, tucked behind her ears or brushed over them.
I remember back to last year when she went to registration day on her Hospitality and Catering college course – out into the big world of strangers, beyond the smallish community where we live, where she’s been around the same familiar peer group since nursery.
As we got ready to drive to college that September morning, I noticed Hayley wasn’t wearing her left hearing aid (her slightly better ear). She had her hair tucked behind that ear and swept across to the other side, covering her hearing aid in her right ear (which is more severely deaf).
I asked her where the missing hearing aid was. Hayley shook her head, smoothed her hair further over her existing one.
“I don’t want people to know I’m deaf or wear hearing aids.”
This was a first. She’d worn them since the age of seven and never seemed to mind before; they were part of her.
“But why, love?”
“Because people treat you differently.”
“Yes mum – if they know you have something wrong with you, whatever it is, like special needs or even if you’re diabetic, they see you differently and treat you differently.”
“Yes I know they’re going to see my hearing aids eventually because I have to tie my hair back and wear a chef’s skull cap.” Looking defiant now. “But I want to get to know them and make friends first, before they judge me.”
Wow. She’d really thought this through. My heart gave a little ouch, thinking of her preparing for the big day meeting all the other new students. Most teenagers would be feeling self-conscious pangs of doubt, wondering how they measure up, how they’ll fit in. She had an extra insecurity to wrangle with.
And I can’t fault her thinking. She’s right, people do make judgements. Who am I to instruct her to bold it out, stick with what is righteous, when this is the real world and not a politically correct one.
Anyway, within a week Hayley was comfortable enough to go back to two hearing aids, hair scraped back for kitchen duty. She’s made good friends who accept her and her confidence has grown.
And that’s what shines out in the party photos…
Please note photo is not of Hayley.