The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

The teen years seen round the world: Obama girls grow up, with milestones to come in 2nd term

  • Print

WASHINGTON - That's how it goes with kids. You hardly notice how fast they're growing up, then suddenly big sis is nearly as tall as Mom and the little one is a tween, gently sassing Dad.

On the inaugural platform again four years later, a more mature Malia Obama, 14, and Sasha, 11, smiled, sometimes giggled, and chatted with their cousin Avery Robinson as they awaited their father's arrival. Sasha bounced on her feet a bit as if chilly in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, and later huddled in her seat. Malia, looking poised in calf-high black boots, rivaled her mother's 5 feet 11 inches. Like any girls their age, they whipped out their smartphones in the parade reviewing stand to take photos.

Both daughters appeared relaxed and oblivious to their global TV audience, unaffected by their rare status, unfazed by the fuss over their father.

Meanwhile, fashion-watchers were tweeting about the girls' coats in vibrant shades of purple. For the record: Malia wore a J. Crew ensemble, Sasha's was Kate Spade, and first lady Michelle Obama was in a Thom Browne coat with a navy print like a man's silk tie.

Such attention to the Obamas' clothes, their Hawaiian vacations, their hair — Michelle lit up Twitter last week by adding bangs — will continue as they charge into a time of turbulence for so many American families: the teen years.

In the second term Sasha, who arrived in the White House as a second-grader, moves on to high school. She expressed her pre-teen spirit Sunday, when Barack Obama took his official, nonpublic oath of office. After giving Dad a "Good job!" she added a reminder of his flubbed words four years ago. "You didn't mess up," Sasha teased the commander in chief.

For Malia, the milestones to come are many — she'll be hitting the age when typical teens start driving, dating and applying to colleges. How normally can any of this go at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

Life in the White House is bound to feel different to a teen than it does to a second-grader.

Seven-year-old Emanuel Coleman's grandmother positioned him on the steps of the National Gallery of Art to watch the swearing-in on a giant outdoor screen Monday. The Durham, N.C., boy thought life for a White House kid must be cool, because the president has "his own private limo, helicopter and lives in a really big house."

"It would be fun to fly in the presidential helicopter," Emanuel enthused.

Sixteen-year-old Colleen Casey isn't so sure.

"They have to live their life in their dad's shadow," said Casey, part of a group of Girl Scout volunteers who came to the inaugural from nearby Woodbridge, Va. "You can't be your own person."

That's the struggle for White House youngsters, said author Doug Wead, who has interviewed 19 sons and daughters of former presidents and wrote about them in "All the Presidents' Children."

"When your mom's the first lady, and all your classmates are oohing and ahhing over her, it's hard to compete with that," Wead said. "At any given time, half the country hates your father and half the country loves him. It's hard to establish a separate identity."

Just last week, the National Rifle Association referred to the Obama daughters in an ad berating their father for opposing a proposal to put armed guards in all schools, while his children get Secret Service protection. And the president's been criticized for sending Sasha and Malia to the private Sidwell Friends School.

Even the great stuff — travelling the globe, meeting rock stars, mingling with world leaders — can go to a girl's head.

Mrs. Obama says she strives to give the girls a normal life — homecoming dances, playing basketball, trick-or-treating, slumber parties — and also to keep them respectful, responsible and down-to-earth.

There's been lots of speculation that Mrs. Obama, who turns 50 next year, may design her own transformation in the second term, when she'll be freed from the pressure of her husband's re-election. Will the first lady who dubbed herself "mom-in-chief" add to her portfolio of family-centred causes? The White House isn't yet saying.

Some feminists want to see the Harvard Law School grad take on a more forceful public role. Not all of her fans are so sure.

"I like the roles she's taken on with troops, with health, with children," said W. Faye Butts, 68, an enthusiastic Obama supporter who travelled from Macon, Ga., for the inaugural. No need to try to do more: "She has a family to raise, that's her first priority."

___

Associated Press writers Richard Lardner, Matthew Barakat and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

___

Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConnieCass

.?

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Lindor Reynolds speaks candidly about life with terminal cancer

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS BUSINESS - cow on farm owned by cattle farmer Lloyd Buchanan near Argyle Wednesday afternoon -see Larry Kusch's story  January 04/2006
  • A black swallowtail butterfly land on Lantana flowers Sunday morning at the Assiniboine Park English Gardens- standup photo – August 14, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who will you vote for in Wednesday's mayoral race?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google