One of the angry old people in my pinochle group remarked in passing the other night that the Obama's were going to be staying in Washington, DC, after the inauguration so that Barack could keep trying to run things. That, of course, is not true. The Obama's are remaining in the nation's capital for much the same reason as the new First Lady will be staying in New York City - so as not to have to move a child out of their established school. Fifteen-year-old Sasha Obama is a high school student, and her parents have made a decision not to force her to change schools just because of her father's unemployment.
Staying in the vortex of Washington, DC's noise and sausage-grinding is undoubtedly a great personal sacrifice for the out-going President and his lady. But it's not surprising because the Obama's have always strived to meet the needs of their children.
When Obama was sworn into the Presidency eight years ago, he and Michelle both understood that her role as First Lady would be almost as daunting and time-consuming as his job - a situation that would create special challenges in fulfilling their parental responsibilities to Sasha and Malia. To meet those concerns, they moved Michelle's mother into the White House both as a live-in babysitter and as a parental substitute for those occasions when the nation's business consumed the parents. It was far from ideal, but the long and short of the situation was that the girls were always under the care and supervision of a loving family member.
And the nation got to watch Sasha and Malia as they grew up because they were often included in what their parents were doing. Several years ago there was a story about the President taking the First Daughters to the big independent bookstore in Washington's Dupont Circle where they spent the afternoon exploring the stacks and Christmas shopping. (That story stuck with me because that bookstore is one of my favorite places in our nation's capital.) America watched over the years as the President and First Lady played an active role in guiding their daughters into becoming the beautiful and thoughtful young women that they are today - and we were often apprised of their reading lists!
Earlier this year the girls and Grandma spent their spring break in Cuba with Barack and Michelle. They undoubtedly enjoyed countless opportunities for travel and educational experiences during eight years of living in the White House, but a lot of what they were able to see and do as First Daughters remains beyond the realm of public consumption because their parents were very focused on keeping their private lives away from the glare of the press. Today it was revealed, for instance, that Malia recently spent several weeks on an educational tour with a group of young people in Bolivia and Peru, and she was able to enjoy that experience without the general public gaping over her shoulder.
And now the Obama daughters are almost grown. Malia heads off to Harvard this fall, and Sasha goes back to an undoubtedly busy schedule in high school. After eight long years they will finally be out of the fish bowl and able to exist with a bit more freedom than they have been accustomed to, but one has to suspect, given their records thus far, that even with the increased freedom that will come from being out of the White House, Sasha and Malia will continue to be exemplary role models for America's youth.
That's what comes from having great parents!