This blog post is a little different than my usual posts. I originally posted this on Facebook as a way to explain to our family and friends why they have seen our son, Hayden’s, presence on LinkedIn – a networking site for professionals. Our son is eight. He is a treasure. If you’d care to put a smile on your face, please read below.
Many months ago, our family booked a Disney Cruise for the week of Christmas break for the five of us. Our oldest son, Hayden got two pneumonias back to back and after the second one, we knew for sure the doctors would never let him go on the cruise, and for good reason. We debated a lot on what to do. I’ll spare you all of the turmoil and arguments for each side, but ultimately, when I discussed it openly with Hayden and asked him what he was looking forward to about the cruise he said, “The hotel key card.” Hotel key cards are what Hayden collects and perseverates on with all of his focus and attention to detail. So, after this conversation with him, I realized my hilarious, awesome, Autistic child did not give a rip about going on the Disney Cruise. I asked him if he could choose between going on the Disney Cruise with his family or going to a hotel with Bub and Ti (grandma and grandpa), which would he pick and
he had ZERO hesitation and answered (from his hospital bed, mind you), “HOTEL!” And he was adamant it had to be the NYLO Hotel. There’s a NYLO right by the hospital he had recently been admitted in and so he had seen it a million times, but he didn’t have a hotel key card from there and that was why he initially wanted to go; to get the key.
My husband and I went ahead and went on the cruise with our two younger boys and they LOVED having our one on one attention, especially coming off of those 17 days of Hayden in the hospital and them being shipped around here and there. Hayden stayed at our house with his nurses working their regular schedule and his grandparents, Bub and Ti, taking care of him.
Now, Hayden and Bub had already called the NYLO multiple times for Hayden to ask a myriad of questions to make sure the NYLO cleared his expectations – did the hotel key card have arrows, what was the manager’s name and birth date, etc. The day of the hotel stay, Bub called and talked to the manager and explained a little more in depth about Hayden and some of his needs. The manager was not overwhelmed or turned off by this precious high maintenance child. In fact, the complete opposite.
From what I can gather, they rolled out the dang red carpet for him! They had a name tag ready for “Hayden Hensley, NYLO Manager” and gift baskets and notes from the management. He was given a master key and worked the front desk and worked in the back where the manager’s office is. He met lots of new friends who work there who all fell in love with him (who wouldn’t??). He LOVED IT!!! Look at his face in these pictures! And you have to realize that at this point he was not feeling 100% yet and hadn’t been out of the hospital for far too long.
He was also able to visit a second hotel where the NYLO manager moonlights at the front desk. He got another goody bag from there and got to inspect rooms. Bub shared a story about a room inspection Hayden and the manager did:
They inspected a King room with one bed and checked it over. Then, they went and checked a room that was a double. The manager asked Hayden, “And what’s different about this room?” ….thinking Hayden would say, “Oh, it has two beds instead of one.” Everyone was impressed when Hayden said, “Well, this room has a room service menu but that other room didn’t.” And that my friends, is Hayden.
So, in the days and weeks to come, NYLO was all Hayden could talk about. He had a renal ultrasound one day at the hospital and begged me to take him to the NYLO since he knew we were driving right by it. I agreed and told him if he would act brave during the procedure, I would take him. After the hospital, we drove to the NYLO next door. We were in the parking lot and he said, “Mom! You’re just going to LOVE it!!” He wheeled himself right in and went straight down the hall where the managers’ desks are in the back! Bear in mind, I have never been to this place and I have no idea who these people are….but every one of them knew Hayden! He loved catching up with his coworkers. Or his employees, rather. A sweet man who is the Operations Director told Hayden that day, “Hayden, my boss is here visiting today, would you like to meet him?” And Hayden replied, “I’m your boss!!” hahaha…. He seriously owns it. It is the most hilarious thing and so precious.
Last week, I was sitting next to Hayden on the couch and he had just logged off of his school robot app which is how he attends class since his illness. He was still on his laptop, though, and I looked over to find he was on a website typing in his email address. I asked him what he was doing and he said casually, “Joining LinkedIn.” As part of his profile he was setting up, he wrote that his commitment was “making the NYLO guests feel happy”. That all truly came from his heart. He was a even a hotel manager for Halloween and he still wants to be one when he grows up. But why wait? I’m sure he’ll be working a shift there again soon.
So, if you need a hotel, may Hayden and I recommend the NYLO! They’re the real deal! Tell them Hayden sent you!