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.

My deaf teen’s brilliant work experience

Tiger Mother’s 15-year old moderately deaf daughter Hayley, who has autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), is getting more independent by the day – and now she’s got spending power!

Tra-la-la-la, ting-ting-ting – the tills of Christmas are ringing out merrily as I shove the groceries down the conveyor belt to my chief shopping assistant for her to pack.“No Mum, keep the chilled stuff together and leave the eggs till last!”

I do as I’m told. If there’s one thing Hayley loves, and excels at, it’s groceries shopping and bag packing. And today, as all around us the frenzy of seasonal panic buying is starting to fizz, Hayley can barely contain her own excitement.

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It’s not just the whole Christmas thing, which of course she loves. It’s her new secret weapon – spending power! When it’s time to pay up, Hayley whips out her supermarket gift voucher and hands it to the cashier. She’s earned it working on a youth work experience scheme where they pay wages in vouchers. And the deal she and I have struck is that each month when she gets her voucher, I pay her the cash equivalent.

It’s a brilliant local scheme. Hayley works two evenings a week at the village community centre where she helps on reception, prepares meeting rooms, does a bit of filing and loads the dishwasher. She loves it and better still, she’s evidently really good at it.

I recently took a phone call from Hayley’s boss, the centre manager. She tells me he’s very kind, asks her about her hearing aids and makes sure she hears and understands all the instructions.

“Is that Hayley’s mum?” he asked, and for the next five minutes he waxed lyrical about Hayley and how hard working and enthusiastic she is. He said he wished all his staff could be like her.

The rich and glowing praise was joy to my ears. I felt so proud of Hayley. And so glad for her. That girl puts her heart and soul into everything she does. It’s just rare that she gets it so right or gets the recognition. Her deafness and her ASD can prove a challenge, but she doesn’t let much stand in her way.

“Work is what Hayley’s been waiting for ever since she was little”

Work is what Hayley’s been waiting for ever since she was little. She’s never had much time or use for toys or games – she’s just wanted to copy the adults around her and do jobs.

When Hayley was six or seven and would help me with housework, she actually cried once when I told her that I’d washed the floor and not saved the job for her. I had to promise her she could clean the cupboards out instead by way of compensation. I swear this is true! I would set her chores like other mothers set up games and puzzles.

“It will stand her in good stead when she leaves school and starts applying for college and jobs”

Well now Hayley’s in her element. And hopefully it will stand her in good stead when she leaves school and starts applying for college and jobs. Anything that can help give her an advantage in a hearing world can only be a good thing.

In the meantime, she’s a girl on a mission – there are presents to be bought, and she’s loaded!