That’s what my kids say, at least.
But can you imagine what it’s like to grow up in the White House?
I couldn’t help but think about that last week when the Obamas’ daughters, Malia and Sasha, made a rare public appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. The Obama girls are no longer little children pulling on Dad’s pants leg. Malia’s 14; Sasha’s 11. And, as The New York Times pointed out last Friday, if dad remains in office, the girls will endure teenage rites of passage such as their first dates and college tours as residents of the most famous home in the United States, if not the world.
In my house, it’s hard enough to keep order. Kids are kids — nothing wrong with that — and sometimes, well, let’s just say they’re a handful, even when their grades are up and their behavior’s acceptable. Distractions are bountiful: TV, the computer, the dog and cat, even the constant attempts to find ways to put off taking a bath until tomorrow night.
But think about the distractions in the White House? Secret Service agents around every corner. Staffers keeping things in order. Tourists downstairs. How can parents keep things sane in a place like 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?
I can’t imagine.
According to the Times, first lady Michelle Obama has a set of stringent rules the Obama girls must follow. I may steal them.
• The girls have to write reports on the trips they take — for their mother, not for school.
• Malia can only use her cellphone on weekends, and the girls can’t use the TV or the computer for anything but homework during the week.
• The girls have to play two sports: they pick one, their mom picks the other.
• If they don’t eat their vegetables, or if they say they’re not hungry, they can’t have cookies or chips later. No snack-sneaking in the White House kitchen.
• Malia has to learn to do laundry before she enters college. (How embarrassing: Doing your own laundry in the White House.)
Granted, the Obamas are hardly the first presidential family to raise their children in the White House. They’re not breaking new ground — and, for comparison’s sake, they’re not anywhere close to the level of President Nixon and his wife Pat, whose daughter, Patricia, famously was married in a White House ceremony.
I’m sure living in the White House is a marvelous thing. It’s rarified air. But as a place to raise children? On that accord, the Obamas may have it figured out.
— Phillip Tutor