Presidential Children: It's Not Easy Being Normal in the White House


There's an article in the Fashion & Style section of NYTimes.com today called "First Chores? You Bet." It explores how the first family will stick to its routine in the White House. According to the article, Mrs. Obama laid down the law about bedtime: It's 8 p.m. And there'll be no sneaking extra desserts from the obliging White House kitchen staff. Also, household staff members won't be making the girls' beds or picking up the dog's poo from the White House lawn. I really respect that President and Mrs. Obama have a plan to keep their girls grounded.

But the article cites Doug Wead, author of "All the Presidents' Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America's First Families," who explains, "It's not going to be normal -- it can't be normal."

That may be obvious, but a reporter from the Weekly Standard who reviewed Wead's book back in June 2003 had some pretty fatalistic insight: "... a president's child has no place to run; no line of work with more power and glory... A president's son cannot surpass his father; he can just hope to match him." Well, that's one way of putting it. And so far, only two sons in history have "matched" their dads.

The Bush twins offered Malia and Sasha a sunnier point of view. In a letter that ran in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 22, 2009, they advised, "Four years goes by so fast, so absorb it all, enjoy it all!" (You should really read the whole letter -- find it here.)

A normal childhood in the White House: Is it possible? Leave your comments -- and examples -- below.

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