Michelle Obama treated an East Room full of kids to a light and lively earful of personal musings – everything from gossip to braces to her need for a nap – on Wednesday.
At her annual – and final – “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” event for the children of White House employees, the first lady described in very intimate terms how her life in the historic mansion, which she called a museum, has unfolded and changed since she and her daughters arrived on the day of President Obama‘s first inauguration in January 2009.
“When we first got here, Malia and Sasha, our daughters, were little. They were in fifth grade and second grade,” Obama said from the state floor just below the First Family’s private living quarters.
“Sometimes when they were little they’d sneak down here, they’d play hide-and-seek. But the older they got the less excited they were about living in a museum, and they just wanted to live in a regular home.”
Fielding questions from her young guests, Obama said she has counted on nightly family dinners for catching up with her daughters now that they are both teenagers, with Malia headed to college this fall, and “beyond hanging out” with their parents.
But over dinner, Obama said, “I love to catch up on the gossip in my girls’ life – whose friends are mad at who, and what boys are in the scene. And I love all that gossip stuff.”
She turned gooey when one child asked about her favorite things to do with the family’s dogs, Bo and Sunny.
“Just squeeze them,” she replied to laughter.
“I let my dogs do a lot. They can sit on my lap, they sit on my chair, they cuddle with me. I like to lay on the floor with them and blow in their face. I like to make them run and chase each other. But they’re so cute, I just love to just cuddle them and massage them. I give them massages, I do.”
She was much less indulgent of herself. Asked if she’d ever had braces as a kid, she said no, adding, “I wish I did.”
“My bottom teeth stick out a little bit. And if I had had braces, they would be fixed by now. So for all of you who don’t like your braces, you will appreciate it when you’re my age.”
And the famously self-confident first lady admitted she avoids watching herself on TV – “because it’s kind of uncomfortable … Like oh, I don’t like the way I looked. Oh, I sounded funny.”
Her Next Act
One intrepid, news-savvy 14-year-old boy asked about Obama’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, and the current first lady was very careful not to endorse Clinton’s bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
“I think Hillary Clinton is a phenomenal woman. And I’ve gotten to know her, and I think she’s made some pretty major contributions over the course of her life. She’s devoted her life to public service, as have many people in – who are seeking the presidency.”
“But Hillary Clinton is an impressive woman. I will not do what she has done – I will not run for president. But there are other things that I want to do to stay involved in working in public service.”
But first, Obama made clear she’s got a little rest on her mind.
After replying to a question about her favorite part of the job of first lady by saying, “Sometimes I like to travel when I’m not too tired,” Obama was asked about what she and her husband will do after they move out of the White House in January 2017.
“I’ve got to find a house to live [in]. And you know what, the president and I, we might just take a vacation … we might just do nothing for a second.
“We’ve got a presidential library, and I’m going to keep doing all my initiatives. But right after we leave here, we might just, like, take a nap.”