Like many parents, Hayley Elton has been inching towards the school holidays much like a desert traveller towards an oasis. ‘They are nearly here, thank goodness,’ she says, a few days before her kids break up. What is she looking forward to most? No homework-nagging and lunchbox-filling? Or is she luxuriating more in the benefits for the kids — the idea that they can spend all day making daisy chains and eating ice-cream?
Sophia debuted on the 5th series of Child Genius on Channel 4 this Tuesday at 8pm.
‘After school, sometimes I’ll go by Pizza Hut if I want them to have something warm. Otherwise, it’s the café at the sports centre.’
Is there ever any time for friends and (whisper it) lounging about with the Xbox? The children insist there is. ‘Sometimes, we have Friday nights off,’ says Sophia.
Any parent of a child with an eye on a future Olympic career will sympathise with how difficult it is to have downtime — but is there any other family in Britain that has produced such high achievers in so many fields at the same time?
Hayley runs me through their weekly routine, which generally involves the kids getting up at 5.50am to dash to skating practice, from there to school, and then back again for more ice-skating, music practice, homework and music lessons.
This is exhausting even to hear. I ask, jokingly, when and where they eat breakfast, because there doesn’t seem to be time in the schedule.
‘Oh, we don’t have time for breakfast, says Hayley. ‘We have it in the car. I’ll get them a slice of toast, or at the skating rink they have a café where they will make them a jam sandwich or cheese on toast.
Perhaps she is right. Perhaps her children need this sort of encouragement, but what happens if, at some point, they tire of achievement? What happens if the older Curtis or Sophia decides they want to work in Boots?
‘I can’t imagine them saying that,’ says Hayley — and her children back her up. ‘With a cash register?’ says Curtis, baffled. ‘No. I don’t want to be a bus driver, either.’
Read the full article by Jenny Johnston on the Mail Online click here