Photo Credit: Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
If in four weeks your dad were running for re-election and you would learn if you would remain in Washington another four years or move on to a new chapter in your young life, you would think you might feel slightly stressed. Listening to Michelle Obama talk about Malia and Sasha, you get the sense they aren’t feeling anxious at all, which is fabulous to hear.
"Malia had a dance this weekend, a big science test and Homecoming is coming up. Those are the things that they're really focused on and they're just not, they're just not connected,” said the first lady during an intimate and lively conversation with iVillage and six other women’s online sites before a campaign rally in the important battleground state of Virginia. "They don't ask about the election ... they don't care," she said with a whisper and a laugh.
In so many ways, the Obama girls seem like your typical 11-year-old (Sasha) and 14-year-old (Malia), with concerns such as the family pet (Sasha worried Bo needed more “dog interaction” so Mrs. Obama crammed a doggie play date into her already busy schedule) and their schoolwork (Mrs. Obama reminds Malia not to be a “boxchecker” and to take the hard courses even if it means no guaranteed A.)
The girls while seemingly “so far removed” from the presidential campaign, according to their mom, are still acutely aware of something else – how they have a public image to uphold in an age when everyone has access to a cell phone. “I think they are one of the first kids in the White House growing up where everybody’s got a cell phone and everybody’s watching,” said the first lady. “We just have to have real conversations even now, it's you can’t go off on somebody, you can’t act bratty … you may be having a moment but somebody could use that moment and try to define you forever.” Her message to both girls, “You are not going to have Facebook for a long time.” Something Mrs. Obama isn’t unhappy about at all!
Malia, a freshman in high school, “takes her academic work very seriously” while Sasha seems “much more academically laid back,” said Mrs. Obama, although she added that Sasha’s “still young enough ... who she will be is still forming.”
No word on what the girls dream to be when they grow up but the first lady said Malia, just recently, asked her for the first time about her job as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals. "We had a conversation about that this weekend because now she's old enough to think about why did you do that job and how did you feel about it. Malia's just now starting to care about what we do because now she's getting into that stage where she's thinking about who she wants to be ... So we just had that conversation ... She asked me what did I think about that job versus this job," she said referring to her role as first lady, which we all thought was a pretty smart question.
One career won’t be off limits even if it’s a no go for mom – elected office. Mrs. Obama said while she would “never consider running for office,” she would never discourage her girls from a political life. “I would support my girls in doing anything they want to do. I always encourage them, think about your passions, think about your gifts, don’t think about what dad does or what somebody else wants you to do, and if it’s politics, if it’s serving in the military, if it’s being a stay at home mom, I just want them to have the confidence in whatever choice they make.”
Whatever your political leanings, it’s probably fair to agree on this point – the first lady and the president have done just about as good a job as presidential parents can do raising a tween and a teen in the White House. Our message to Malia and Sasha: Keep not caring and not asking about the election ... you’ll be great no matter what!