Could a change of career plan be on the cards for Hayley?

Hayley’s such a natural with children; could a change of career plan be on the cards?

Monday evening, exhausted after a visit from a very lively two-year-old…

The dog’s stopped quaking and has finally been persuaded to venture downstairs from the safety of my duvet. The breakables have been returned to their usual positions two feet lower than the emergency safe places we hastily stashed them. All the cupboard doors have been screwed back on; the contents restored. Jesse, one determined little explorer – his unspoken motto: ‘inside every cupboard a new adventure’ – has left and peace reigns once more.

Young Boy Relaxing On Sofa At HomeHe’s adorable and we all love his visits but it’s like having a mini-whirlwind in the house. Everything not screwed down will be upended, hurled like a shot put or, in the case of the dog, chased and pelted with toys/drink beaker/biscuits. Now he’s gone home with his patient saint of a mum. But while the rest of us are lying down in darkened rooms with damp flannels on our foreheads, Hayley’s still beaming. “If only he could stay here always,” she says.

I pull the flannel more firmly over my eyes. I know I’ve done it a few times over, with four children and a stepdaughter, but it all seems so long ago. I can’t honestly imagine how anyone copes day after day with such a demanding little bundle of energy. And I’m frankly amazed at Hayley’s total character change in the presence of her little nephew.

She’s not best known for her patience and calm. The house frequently trembles with her meltdowns and outbursts. I have come to know that having a hearing loss is frustrating and tiring, a constant battle struggling to catch everything and not miss out, so I try to make allowances, though there are limits. And recently hormones have come into play, unleashing even more scathing fury and spectacular intolerance upon the rest of us. But something about Hayley comes alive when small children are around. It totally transforms her into a mature, patient, responsible little adult. And I won’t pretend I don’t like it!

Hayley has always got on with children younger than her, seems in her element with them. In the last two years she’s done lots of babysitting, worked on a job scheme at a local nursery and did her work experience at another nursery, both of which she loved and got great reports. Maybe it’s easier getting round the deafness issues – small children have a far less sophisticated grip on language than Hayley’s own peers. Their needs are simpler and they won’t object or get impatient if Hayley hasn’t heard and asks them to repeat themselves.

Jesse’s latest visit demonstrated Hayley’s childcare skills again. And he loved her – a great playmate, good for cuddles and endless repetitions of his favourite chase-me-up-the-stairs game or peek-a-boo behind the curtains.

Although Hayley has long wanted a catering career, I can see childcare vying to become an option. The rewards are very instant – that irresistible giggling, little arms outstretched for a pick-up – and all without the pressures of trying to communicate in a peer or adult environment. I can totally see the attraction.

Hayley’s special bond with animals

Hayley’s been at Guides’ camp for a week, and the family dog has missed her greatly. Tiger Mother talks about Hayley’s special bond with animals, perhaps due to her deafness and communication problems.

Saturday afternoon, in the garden…

I’m standing outside the back door, trying to restore order and call the dog to heel, but I’m failing, partly due to being hysterical with laughter.

There is a canine streak flashing round the lawn, burrowing through baskets of dry washing, leaping over garden chairs, overturning flower pots and bounding up onto the trampoline. If only she had her own mobile I’m certain she’d be doing backflips and taking selfies.

Each round of the garden that the dog makes is punctuated by a spring-loaded leap up at Hayley, covering her in a slobber of doggy kisses, before galloping off for another victory lap.

dog

Up until five minutes ago, all was calm. Hayley’s been away at Guides’ camp for a week and the house has echoed with the sound of, if not silence, then low volume anyway. The telly’s been on quietly, music in the kitchen at a level where you can still hear a jet immediately overhead. And no shouting matches with her brothers.

“The dog has missed her terribly”

The dog has missed her terribly – sulked, taken up watch by the front door and refused to eat her dinners, the ultimate sign of devotion as she’s a very foodie dog.

Now Hayley is home. She calls sternly for a ‘down’ and the dog drops like a stone at her young mistress’s feet, looking up at her with love and devotion. Now that’s how it’s done.

Hayley has a way with the dog that shows the closeness between them. It’s great to see, especially when things are not going well with her at school, or when she’s fallen out with her friends. The dog is like her best mate. Sometimes she is her best mate.

Hayley loves all animals, does really well horse riding, and seems to have an affinity with every creature that she meets, even a tortoise that we adopted for a week recently.

“She really is in her element with animals”

She really is in her element with animals and I do wonder if part of the reason is down to her deafness and problems with communication. The constant struggle Hayley has trying to hear conversation, to keep up with the lightning flow of chat between her peers and others. And the difficulty she has trying to get her words out, often left behind as the conversation moves swiftly on.

All incredibly frustrating and we at home often feel the backlash, when she unleashes it on us in the safety of her own home after a long, tiring, wind-up of a day.

But with animals, we’re all in the same boat. None of us can speak their language, so we have to set up a form of communication between them and us that can work. Some of it is spoken, some is signed – as in hand cues for a dog, riding aids such as leg contact and reins contact with the mouth for a horse.

All perfectly logical, one to one, and for once on a level playing field for Hayley. No missed consonants or having to constantly say ‘pardon?’ or be told it doesn’t matter.

In seconds, Hayley’s taken her eye off the dog and been floored by a hairy heap. It’s hilarious to see so much love and devotion in action – and even occasional obedience…

Hayley misplaces one of her hearing aids

Hayley misplaces one of her hearing aids, and is mortified when mum tells her their lively, lovable pup’s found it and chewed it up!

Hayley is looking at me impatiently. “Well?” she demands.

She spots the dog yawning luxuriously, waking from an afternoon nap, and drops her school bag to rush over and cuddle her. Hayley adores the dog who adores her back, and for a moment I put off finishing what I’d started telling her.

pink-hearing-aid

Hayley mislaid one of her hearing aids yesterday and we agreed that while she checked her classrooms and school locker, I would hunt round the house for it. She’s very good at looking after them and she gets very upset when she thinks she’s lost one. If ever they are misplaced, it’s not for long; they usually turn up in a pocket or down the side of her bed.

At lunchtime I texted Hayley to tell her the missing hearing aid had turned up at home, so she could stop looking.

Now she wants it back.

“Well,” I say, cautiously. “The good news it’s been found… The bad news is, it was the dog that found it…”

Her mouth falls open as the penny drops. “Oh no, she hasn’t…?”

I nod slowly. The dog has of course eaten it. Well, given it a good chew before I could get it off her anyway.

She’s a large, curious and hungry five month old puppy who eats everything, including stones, house bricks and the back door. A hearing aid would be a mere morsel!

Hayley wails and a look of worry pins the dog’s ears back to their ‘guilty’ position.

But Hayley can’t stay mad at the dog for long, she’s her best friend.

Since we got her from a rescue shelter last summer, this pup’s proved to be worth her weight in gold when it comes to being a loyal and loving companion.

“With her mild ASD, Hayley finds it difficult to make close friends”

With her mild ASD, Hayley finds it difficult to make close friends. She spends a lot of time, when she’s not at one of her many sporting/Guiding/Air Cadets activities, at home with boring old us for company.

It’s been lovely to see her bond with our new family member, care for her, help to train her, the only one initially who could get her out in the rain for a toilet trip.

Right now Hayley’s worried that audiology will charge us for a new aid, but I tell her how nice they were on the phone when I told them the dog had eaten it (mortified shrieks from Hayley, ‘Mum you didn’t actually tell them that!’) and that they would arrange for a new one right away, with no charge incurred. Everyone in that department is really lovely; I know how lucky we are because not everyone has such a good experience with audiology services in different regions.

So all’s well. Except that Hayley’s younger brother Harry, who’s heard the news, is thrusting his maths exercise book under the dog’s nose and making chomping noises.

“If I could just get her to like it as much as she likes hearing aids,” he says. “Then I wouldn’t have to do my homework…”