President Donald Trump and wife Melania are highly protective of their young son Barron’s privacy. But with the holiday season upon us, the 11-year-old seems to be stepping into the spotlight a bit more.
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Barron made a cameo at the annual White House turkey pardon, where he watched his father give two birds named Drumstick and Wishbone a holiday pass.
And a day earlier, on Nov. 20, Barron was by his mom’s side when the White House Christmas tree was delivered.
The first lady, wearing a red turtleneck and a plaid coat, and Barron, in a dark suit coat, white shirt and dark slacks, looked on as a military quartet played holiday songs and a horse-drawn wagon carried the 19 1/2-foot Balsam fir up the White House driveway.
The mother and son duo circled the tree approvingly as the press took advantage of the rare Barron photo op.
At the time, some noted on Twitter that Barron seemed to have had a growth spurt and was “towering” over his mother.
Though that particular observation about Barron was harmless enough, some critics have come under fire in the past for commenting on the first son’s appearance and behavior.
And those critics have had to contend with the unofficial first children’s alumni club — a tight group that knows no politics. Former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, for example, have as passionately protected Barron’s privacy as they have that of Sasha and Malia Obama.
Jenna Bush Hager told PEOPLE in a recent interview that the internet attacks against Barron make her “mad” because “the truth is, obviously, Barron Trump didn’t ask his dad to run for president. It wasn’t his decision.”
“And the same with Malia and Sasha and Chelsea and all of us,” she said. “We’re supportive of our parents, but it’s a job without guidelines, and it’s one that none of us asked for, specifically.”
“I think kids should be allowed to be kids,” she added.
The Bush sisters, 35, also published a heartfelt open letter to Sasha, 16, and Malia, 19, in January as Obama’s daughters prepared to leave the White House.
“You are about to join another rarified club, one of former First Children — a position you didn’t seek and one with no guidelines,” Jenna and Barbara wrote in TIME. “But you have so much to look forward to. You will be writing the story of your lives, beyond the shadow of your famous parents, yet you will always carry with you the experiences of the past eight years.”
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Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton has also made a habit of publicly standing up for Barron and other presidential kids, most recently lashing out at a fake news story claiming that Malia had been questioned in an FBI investigation.
“Loathsome. Just loathsome,” Clinton tweeted of the article. “Please leave Malia alone to lead her own life & keep her out of your (shameful) agenda!”
Just days after Trump’s inauguration in January, Clinton defended Barron against his Twitter trolls, writing: “Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does — to be a kid.”
And in August, Clinton railed against the Daily Caller after it published a story ridiculing Barron’s casual fashion choices. “It’s high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves,” she tweeted.
First Lady Melania Trump thanked Clinton in a tweet at the time, writing: “Thank you @ChelseaClinton – so important to support all of our children in being themselves! #StopChildhoodBullying.”