Being the president isn’t easy, but being the president’s kid might be even harder. Sasha and Malia Obama have spent a good chunk of their lives in the White House – over five years now – and while they’re certainly not your average kids, they are indeed still kids… just with millions of eyes on their every move, every single day.
Sasha Obama will turn 13 this June and – like her older sister Malia, now nearly 16 – she’ll be navigating those tough teenage years in the public eye. Considering that all of us were at one time teenagers (or perhaps still are now), I think we can all agree that it’s a complicated span of time, full of crazy mood swings and drama in love, friendship and family relations. Sometimes you don’t know which way is up and which is down; others, you just can’t be bothered with anything. Apathy is common, highs and lows happen as quickly as you can blink and it’s all normal. So why is everyone giving Sasha such a hard time?
The New York Post ran a full story on the Obama family’s recent trip to China, focusing on the youngest’s apparent boredom with her overseas experience. Sasha and Malia accompanied mom and First Lady Michelle Obama to the country, along with their grandmother and several Secret Service members, and photos from the trip have been plentiful. In many, Sasha seems to be unhappy with, or at the very least uninterested in, the goings-on around her. I feel that… even if that’s probably not what’s really happening here.
We all know the tendency of the media to sensationalize things. A picture can be taken at the wrong second and send a message that’s completely false in the grand scheme of things. A photo taken when recovering from a sneeze can garner headlines of such-and-such celebrity being disgusted, while greeting someone with a kiss on the cheek can land you on the front page of a gossip rag with your name tied to a random acquaintance with whom you’re now apparently sharing a romance. It’s all rather silly, and chances are, the photos which have been chosen for publication of Sasha looking bored are simply that: snapshots taken out of context. After all, what should she be doing?
There is, of course, the very real chance that Sasha is having less fun in China than she might have hoped. Think back to all the family vacations you’ve ever been dragged on and how bored you were listening to the adults talk about stuff you didn’t care about, and how all you wanted to do is get back home so you could hang out with your friends and play video games or watch TV. You know, normal stuff. A 13-year-old isn’t going to appreciate the beauty of China’s remote provinces or the majesty of the Great Wall, they’re going to want to be at home with familiar surroundings. They’re going to want to put down the chopsticks and eat pizza (sorry, Michelle – we mean organic pizza on whole wheat crust with reduced-fat cheese?); they’re going to want to text and watch Netflix and hang around in their pyjamas. Hell, I think I’d prefer that now!
Plus, consider this: this is Michelle’s trip. It’s part of her duty as First Lady to meet with diplomats around the world, to be active in the political community. Sasha and Malia didn’t ask for this, they were born into it. And while I’m sure they can somewhat appreciate the scale of their parents’ contribution to the world, they’re also just kids – something they don’t often get the luxury to be. Why should Sasha care about her mother’s trip to China? All she knows is that she got dragged along to the other side of the world and American Idol is on tonight.
Good for Sasha Obama for being a kid. It’s almost heartening to realize that even despite her role as First Kid, despite the cameras everywhere and the pressure she and her sister must certainly feel to be perfect, upstanding children, sometimes being a teenager just overrides it all. Looking through the photos of the girls’ seemingly bored faces, I couldn’t help but smile. We’ve all been there, and now even the Obama kids have, too.
Featured image via Reuters/Petar Kujundzic; Additional image via Michelle Obama’s Instagram