Remarks by the First Lady at Take Your Child To Work DayBy USGOV
Thursday, April 28, 2011
11:02 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Hi. Hi, Rishi. How are you? Thank you. Thanks so much. All right, how are you guys doing?
MRS. OBAMA: Tell me what you’ve been doing today. (Inaudible.) We’ll do raising hands. How about you? What's been going on?
Q Well, we went to the pastry chef.
MRS. OBAMA: Pastry chef. Did you get some pastries?
MRS. OBAMA: What kind of pastries did you get?
Q It was like this foamy blueberry stuff –
MRS. OBAMA: Foamy blueberry stuff.
Q — that you dipped in an apple.
MRS. OBAMA: In an apple. So it was a little healthy, right?
MRS. OBAMA: That's cool, that's cool. What else? What else did you do today? What about this young lady? There goes your mic.
Q We went to see the National Park Service and the Secret Service.
MRS. OBAMA: What did the Secret Service tell you? Did you learn any secrets? (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: No secrets?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, well, what did you learn about — what did you do with the Secret Service?
Q Well, we got to see a dog.
MRS. OBAMA: A dog — oh, one of the guard dogs, yeah. Did they do any tricks for you? Did they show them anything you can do — they could do?
MRS. OBAMA: They’re pretty amazing, those dogs.
What else? Who else? All right, what about you? What did you have fun doing today?
Q We did some — we looked at some space things.
MRS. OBAMA: Some space things. Where did you see space things?
Q Like we saw some rockets and tools to fix space ships.
MRS. OBAMA: Rockets? Pictures of rockets or actual rockets?
Q Like models of them.
MRS. OBAMA: That's good. I didn’t know we had rockets around here. It’s the rockets.
So I understand you guys have some questions. Are there any people with questions? (Laughter.) I think there are a few.
Okay, let’s start over here. Let’s do some back of the room. White shirt.
Q How many fruit and veggies do you have in your garden?
MRS. OBAMA: Ooh, that's a good question. We have tons. I don't know exactly how — (inaudible) — let’s keep this going so they can hear me. Can you all hear me, hear me, hear me? Oh, it’s over here, that's why. You know what — (inaudible) — the handheld mic, because this isn’t consistent. Okay.
So we have a lot of lettuces, so different types of lettuce. We have lots of herbs, so garlic and rosemary and basil. And we plant snap peas and tomatoes, and we’ve had some great sweet potatoes in the fall. So you plant different things at different times. We’re trying to grow some berries, but the birds keep eating the berries off of the bushes. So this year we’re trying to cover them.
Rhubarb, which is like a really strawberry tasty delight that I love, you can make pies with it. We grow some of those. In the fall we try to grow some pumpkins. We’ve got a few small pumpkins. We’ve tried watermelon. I don't think we did so well with the watermelons.
So we try to grow a little bit of everything to show people that you can grow anything you want, even in the city.
So next time maybe you guys will get a chance to see the garden. The weather wasn’t nice enough to take you out there, so maybe next year.
All right, let’s see, we’ll go boy, girl — there's a young man on the end in the very back row.
Q What's your favorite color?
MRS. OBAMA: And you guys stand up. I want to know your names, I want to know your ages, I want to know a little bit about you. So what's your name, what's your age.
Q I’m Nathan –
MRS. OBAMA: Nathan.
Q — and I’m nine.
MRS. OBAMA: Nine. Welcome, Nathan, who is nine.
Q What's your favorite color?
MRS. OBAMA: My favorite color. You know what, Sasha asked me this the other day, and it’s hard for me to have a favorite color because I like them all so much. I mean, look at this dress. It’s got like every color in it. But I guess if I had to pick one, it would be something like lavender, purple. I tend to like those colors.
What's your favorite color?
MRS. OBAMA: Purple? (Laughter.) You and me. You and me.
All right, let’s go to this section. There’s a young lady in the pink right by you. Yes, you. You want to stand up. Tell us your name, your age.
Q I’m Claudia, and I’m 10 years old.
MRS. OBAMA: And I know what else I want to know. Where does your parent work here? Do you know?
Q He works for the Secret Service.
MRS. OBAMA: Ooh, they're some of my favorites. Yes. Okay, what’s your question?
Q What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time here?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, that's a good question. I exercise a lot just to keep moving. I do that. You know, nowadays, I spend a lot of time talking to my girls. They're at the age where they have a lot of questions and a lot of conversations, so dinnertime conversations, right before bedtime conversations, I have fun doing that.
Going out with friends when I get a chance to. Going to the girls’ games. We love doing that. So now it’s soccer and lacrosse, and that's what I’ll be doing all day Saturday and Sunday.
So those are the kind of things I do. But probably like your parents, I mean I do what your moms and dads do. And when you have kids, we usually do what you do. That's what becomes our favorite thing. Thanks.
Let’s go over here. We’ve got young man in the bright green shirt right by you. Stand up, tell us name, age, what your parent does here.
Q I’m Simon, and I’m 12, and my dad works for the USTR.
MRS. OBAMA: Cool.
Q And what’s your favorite sport?
MRS. OBAMA: Tennis, without a doubt. Favorite sport to play is tennis. Favorite sport to watch is tennis, and I do like basketball. I enjoy the game. I enjoy watching basketball. What about you? What do you like?
MRS. OBAMA: Are you good at it?
Q Yeah! (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: It’s on now. I know, I know. It’s mics, mics, they can mess you up. Well, thanks for your question.
We’ll stay over here. We see — there’s a young lady in the back with a gray and — with a blue sweater. Yes. Stand up. Name, age, what your parent does.
Q My name is Cynthia (ph). I’m 10. And my mom works for the Science and Technology thingy. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: We value her service at the thingy. (Laughter.) What’s your question?
Q How do you choose your clothing?
MRS. OBAMA: How do I choose my clothing? You know, it kind of depends on what I’m doing today, so after this, I have to do a luncheon, so I wanted to wear something that was comfortable, but also kind of pretty because it’s a luncheon with some ladies. And — but when I’m doing something where I’m outside and it’s going to be hot, or I’m going to be running around, I’ll wear something that's comfortable for that. So it really depends on the day and how I feel.
I thought, I like this dress, it’s pretty, and I felt like being pretty today. Did it work? Is it pretty? Am I working?
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. See, it worked. It worked.
All right, let’s come to this section. We’re coming back around, coming back around. Gentleman in the blue and white stripe, yes, right here. Yes, you. You. Name, age, stand up.
Q I’m eight and my name is Timmy. Do you –
MRS. OBAMA: What does your parent do?
Q My dad is — he works for the U.S. drug czar.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes.
Q And what’s your favorite football team?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my favorite football team — Da Bears! (Laughter.) But you know what, I like the Pittsburgh Steelers too because –
Q When I –
MRS. OBAMA: What, what, what? Okay, I like the Dallas Cowboys. Who else? What else? Who else? The Giants — what did you say?
Q The Jets!
MRS. OBAMA: The Jets. See, you can’t win with that answer. Okay –
Q I played for a kid football league, and my team was the Bears.
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah? You and me. You and me. The Bears. What position did you play?
Q I played a little bit of linebacker, and I played offensive right tackle and defensive left tackle.
MRS. OBAMA: Nice, nice. You want to keep football up? Awesome, awesome. Thanks for sharing.
Okay, we’re coming over this way, coming over this way. This young lady right here.
Q I’m Sabrina. I’m nine years old. My dad works at the OMB.
MRS. OBAMA: You did — did you check it out on the tag?
Q Yes. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: Nice move. (Laughter.)
Q What’s your favorite part of the White House?
MRS. OBAMA: What’s my favorite part of the White House? All right, there is my favorite part outside. I like the Rose Garden, especially now when it’s spring, because it’s really green, and then the flowers are just so pretty, and you see magnolia trees, and it’s near my husband’s office, so it’s kind of close to him. That's a pretty place.
Inside I like — my favorite room is the Yellow Oval Room in our house. So did you guys get to see the Blue Oval Room?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, we live right upstairs, and there is a room that's similar to that that's in our residence that's yellow, oval, and it’s shaped the same way. But right next to it is the Truman Balcony, and when it’s warm, you can go outside, and you get a great view of the Washington Monument, and it’s fun to sit out there. And if the girls are walking Bo, we can watch them play. So that room is my favorite.
MRS. OBAMA: All right, thanks.
Okay, let’s go to the back of the room, back of the room, back of the room. All right, young lady in the green shirt in the back. Yes, you. Yes, stand up.
Q My name is Lucia, I’m 11 years old, and my grandmother works for the Executive Office of the President.
MRS. OBAMA: Nice.
Q And my question is, if you were to meet any famous person that has ever lived, who would it be?
MRS. OBAMA: Wow, that's tough. That's a really hard question. Any famous person? Well, I’ve already met some pretty cool famous people. I’m not sure if you think they were cool, because they were cool — like Stevie Wonder, very cool.
Q Oh, that's awesome.
MRS. OBAMA: Paul McCartney, who was a Beatle.
Q That's so cool.
MRS. OBAMA: So cool. Oprah Winfrey. Amazing cool. Just met Willow Smith. She was here at the Easter Egg Roll. Very cool.
So there are a lot of — there are tons of cool authors and playwrights and scientists and heroes and soldiers. I mean, that's one of the best things about being in the White House, is that we get to meet so many different people who are making impacts in the arts, in science, in sports. So it’s just — it’s endless. So I just enjoy meeting everybody.
But you know what? I enjoy meeting you guys the best. Really. You guys are the most fun. You ask good questions, and you’re honest, and you’re genuine. So I always love spending time with you guys.
All right, we’re going to stay on this side. We’re going to move up to the front. Okay, all right, you’ve got a supportive person pointing at you. (Laughter.) So you get the next question. What's your name, age, what does your parent do?
Q My name is Alex Costa (ph) and I’m 12 years old, and I just want to ask what is your job as the First Lady?
MRS. OBAMA: What's my job? I don't know. That's a good question. What do I do every day? You know, there is no formal job description for the First Lady of the United States, so we have the good fortune of being able to decide what we want to do.
And the issues that I care most about that I’ve been spending a lot of time working on is trying to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country in a generation. So we’ve been doing a lot. We’ve developed a campaign that we call "Let's Move,” and it’s designed to get people moving and kids eating better, and that's one of the reasons why we grew our garden. And Beyonce just did a video for "Let's Move" and you all have to go online and see it. It is so good because Beyonce is showing kids and parents that you don't have to have a lot of money; that you can turn on your favorite song and dance to it. So she redid one of her songs for "Let's Move," so that's been very exciting.
And I’ve been working — how many — are there any kids whose parents are in the military who are here? Well, one of the things that we’ve been talking about — you, too?
Q My dad is in the Army.
MRS. OBAMA: See there? Well, we’re trying to create a national campaign –
Q He used to be, but not anymore.
MRS. OBAMA: The same thing. You’ve been a part of a military family. Well, there are millions of military families and military kids all over this country, and we need to make sure that the rest of the country knows you’re out there, understands your sacrifice, and that we’re all working to support you. So we’re grateful to your parents, your guys’ parents, and you guys for all that you sacrifice for that country. So we’re talking about that, as well.
So those are the kind of things I do. So I travel around the country as much as I can, trying to spread the word. I like to speak to students like you guys as much as I can.
So that's kind of my job. Does that make sense? All right, thanks.
Q My dad — if my grandpa was down here, we’d teach you how to make a good watermelon.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, good — to teach me how to grow a good watermelon? All right, all right, you hear that? We’re going to get some watermelon-growing advice here. Sounds good. We’ll take you up on that.
All right, we’re going to go to this section. The young lady in the gray and white sweater. Yeah, you in the back, yes. Here comes the mic. It’s coming, it’s coming. It’s here.
Q Hi, my name is Jada (ph), I’m 11, and my mom does the financing and budgeting.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh. (Laughter.) Tell her thank you.
Q And my question is, what are the disadvantages and the difficulties of being a First Lady?
MRS. OBAMA: The disadvantages and difficulties? You know, probably one of the hardest things — and both the President and I talk about this — is that you can’t just do anything on the spur of the moment, right? So if right now, after I wanted to leave here, and I wanted to walk out the front door, and go to the store, that would create a lot of problems for a lot of people. And it would be chaotic. So I can’t do that.
And that's like the normal stuff. I mean, before we lived here, we were normal people. I had a job, I drove my own car, I took my kids to school every day. I went to Target and shopped for my groceries. And, you know, that may sound like minor things, but once you can’t do any of that ever again, you start feeling like, well, this is a little strange. So sometimes it becomes difficult to live in what we call a bubble.
But the upsides are much better. I mean, I get to do things that can impact the whole country for a long time. We can create a whole conversation and focus the country’s attention on issues that we care about. And that’s not something that I could have done when I wasn’t First Lady. So there are a few downsides, but there are a lot of upsides.
So, good question. Thanks.
Q Thank you.
MRS. OBAMA: All right, we’ll shift over here. There’s a young man in the red and blue and white shirt.
Q What do you like doing –
MRS. OBAMA: Stand up. Tell me your name and your age.
Q My name is Tyler. I’m eight.
MRS. OBAMA: Eight.
Q My dad is in the national drug control policy.
MRS. OBAMA: Nice.
Q What do you like doing best with Bo?
MRS. OBAMA: Doing best with Bo — I like to cuddle with Bo. Bo thinks he’s a child. So some of the funniest things — and Malia and Sasha thinks it’s funny, too — sometimes they’re sitting on my lap and he’ll run and like try to move them out of the way so he can sit on my lap. And Bo is big, so he’s not like a little puppy. He’s a big dog, but he thinks he’s a puppy.
What did you — what were you –
Q Yeah, our dog does that too.
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah, yeah. But I kind of like it. It’s sweet when he wants to cuddle. So that’s my favorite thing. And playing — doing tricks with him, seeing him learn tricks. So there’s one thing. If he wants a treat, he’s got to sit, he’s got to roll over, he’s got to give you a high five, he’s got to do some things for his treat. But he’s so excited about the treat that he almost can barely do the trick trying to get to the treat, and that’s funny to watch.
You have a dog?
MRS. OBAMA: What’s your dog’s name?
MRS. OBAMA: Tucker. What kind of dog is Tucker?
Q Australian Labradoodle.
MRS. OBAMA: Ooh, big dog, huh? Australian Labradoodle, that’s big, right?
Q He’s still a puppy.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh. Well, he’s going to be big and he’s going to be fun.
All right, thanks for your question. We’ll shift over here. All right, we’ve got a young lady in the gray, right there on the end.
Q My name is Emma (ph), and I’m nine years old, and my dad works for the USTR. And what inspired you to help the military?
MRS. OBAMA: What inspired me? You all. The military families inspired me because I was probably like most Americans. We aren’t part of a military family. I mean, my dad was in the Army, but it was before I was even born. But as I’ve traveled around the country, I’ve got to meet — have had the opportunity to meet a lot of military families, a lot of moms, a lot of kids. And when you learn about how much they sacrifice — like I have — I’m just very proud, and I want to make sure the rest of the country knows about Americans like our military families who sacrifice so much and have to manage things at home when they have loved ones who are fighting in a war, or they're serving in some other way.
So it was the stories of the families that really moved me, and I wanted to make sure the rest of the country knew about it. So that's that we’re going to do — me and Jill Biden, who is the Vice President’s wife. We’re going to be doing that. Sound good?
MRS. OBAMA: All right. Okay, we’ll stay over here. There’s a young man in a green shirt upfront right here, in the second row.
Q I’m Daniel, age 8. My dad is the head of European Affairs, I think.
MRS. OBAMA: Whoa. Have you ever been to Europe?
Q No. Just my dad.
MRS. OBAMA: Well, Dad — tell him to get on it, all right?
Q Yes. I think he’s already been somewhere.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, but you. You should go. Tell him — the First Lady should say this summer, trip to Paris, how’s that?
Q Okay. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: Sounds good. All right, what’s your question?
Q My question was, do you get to spend a lot of time with Bo?
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah, I get to spend a lot of time with Bo. Yeah, he’s around all the time, just hanging out. He’s just laying — he’s probably asleep right now.
But Bo has a job himself, actually. He leaves every morning and he goes down with Dale, who is one of the head gardeners. And he’s with all the National Park Service guys. And you’ll see him, and he’s like walking around with them, and looking at the plants. He really — I think he thinks he has a job because he takes it very seriously. So if I go out and see him, he kind of ignores me when he’s with his worker crew people. He’s not a sort of hi, Mommy, I want to be in your lap. He doesn’t do that. He’s like, I’m at work. I’m busy. (Laughter.)
So he works until about noon, and then he comes back, and he’s tired, so he’s usually laying around.
Q I bet his next job choice will be digging up the plants.
MRS. OBAMA: Digging up plants. That's — well, we won’t teach him that now. We want to wait till we get away from the garden.
All right, we’ll shift over here. All right, we’re going to go in the back. And we see the young — is that a young lady in the blue sweater with — yeah, okay. Stand up, sweetie.
Q My name is Olivia Ritchie (ph), and I am eight years old. And my dad works for the National Drug Control Policy.
MRS. OBAMA: Okay, what’s your question?
Q My question is, what type of school do Malia and Sasha go to?
MRS. OBAMA: They go to a school called Sidwell Friends. It’s a Quaker school, and they teach values of community and everybody is equal. I sort of like that. But they — it’s a school in Washington. In fact, there are two campuses. There’s a campus in Washington, and there’s one in Bethesda, which is the lower school.
And this year Sasha graduates from fourth grade, so she gets to go to the big school. It’s very exciting. There’s graduation. There’s a lot going on. It’s big time stuff. She’ll be in middle school, and Grandma will be happy because there’s one drop-off. That's really the big thing. Parents understand that. No more two drop-offs after this year. But that's the school they go to.
What school do you go to?
Q I go to Mantua Elementary.
MRS. OBAMA: All right, you like it?
MRS. OBAMA: You’re doing well?
MRS. OBAMA: All right, good.
All right, we’re going to shift over here. Let’s see, let’s see. Okay, gentleman in the black polo shirt — blue or dark polo shirt.
Q I’m Jack, and I’m 11 years old. And my dad works for the drug czar. Do you like the White House better than your old house?
MRS. OBAMA: That's a good question. You know, it’s very different, you know? We like our old house, too. And when we get a chance to go back — and we don't get a chance to go back often, that's still home, so the girls remember that as their rooms, and they reminisce. And they go through their closets where their books — there are a lot of memories there, so nothing beats memories. But we’re creating new memories here.
And in so many ways, this is home now. This is where the girls go to school. This is where most of their friends are. This is where their dad works. This is where we live, so this has become home, too. But it’s good to go back when we can, although Chicago gets kind of cold in the winter, so we kind of avoid it in the winter because it’s cold. So we don't miss the cold. So thanks for your question.
All right, we’re coming over here. We’re going to go — okay, young lady in the middle. Yeah. I know, I know. We’re going to get a few more in.
Q My name is Danielle (ph), and I’m 10 years old. And my mom is the executive chef of the — and I would –
MRS. OBAMA: Take your time.
Q I just forgot.
MRS. OBAMA: It’s all that other information. All right, we’ll do one thing. I’ll take another question –
Q Oh, yes.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, you got it? Okay, all right, good.
Q Did you plant the garden or does the gardeners do that?
MRS. OBAMA: You know I plant — I helped. I helped to plant it. I worked with a bunch of kids from schools in the communities, and we actually — we planted this — two weeks ago, we did this planting. And because we had a bunch of kids, it took us literally 30 minutes to plant the whole garden because everyone was helping, and that's the beauty of having a garden in the White House. It’s not just the National Parks people, and they help take care of it and make sure it’s watered, and they weed, but there are so many people who want to help.
We have volunteers who come on a regular basis because they want to help weed the garden. We’ve got kids in communities who come to help us plant and harvest, so I don't have to do anything by myself. And I don't think that I could do it by myself, given the other job that I have. You know, I can’t be at the garden all day. So fortunately we have the gardeners. We’ve got school kids. We have volunteers who come.
The chefs — all the chefs help with the garden, so every — it’s really everyone’s garden, and that's why it’s so beautiful, because everybody helps make it possible. Thanks for the question.
We’ll do — gentleman up in the front right here. I’m going to go around one more time. I’m going to go this way, okay? And then this will be the last question in this section, okay?
Q My name is Gavin (ph), and I’m eight years old. And my dad works for the USSS. And were you — how surprised were you when you came into the White House?
MRS. OBAMA: How surprised was I? You know, shocked. I was very surprised because this is a pretty surprise — not too many — I think I visited the White House once before I lived here, and I went on a tour just like everybody else did. So I know of knew what to expect on this floor, but then you go upstairs where the President and the President’s family lives, and it was a shock. But it’s not a shock anymore. It’s just kind of normal.
But it took a little while to get used to, because what would you think if you woke up and you were living in the White House? Would you be shocked?
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, pretty shocking. I think that’s how I felt. It was like, we’re living in the White House. I look at this stuff all the time and now I live here. How shocking. And I felt the same way probably that you would feel. But now we’re sort of used to it. Does that make sense?
All right. Okay, we’ll switch over here. Last question in this section. It’s going to be a girl. I know. (Laughter.) All right, we got a young lady right there, second row, white blouse, second row — second row facing this way, right here.
Q My name is Hope Myers (ph) and I’m 12 and my mom works for OMB. My question is –
MRS. OBAMA: Where does she work?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh.
Q What is your favorite part of being the First Lady?
MRS. OBAMA: My favorite part of being First Lady is spending time with kids, really. I tell my staff all the time, if you could book my whole day with kids, I’d work a lot harder. I really do — I love spending time — I love my girls, but I love you guys. I love — because you’re the future, really. And there’s so many — you’re so open to possibilities and you’re not sort of bogged down in what you knew when you were — years ago. You guys are funny. You’re generally open and excited.
So I love spending time with kids and I — that’s why I work a lot on child nutrition issues. That’s why I work with military families, because it’s what goes in your heads and what you have in your hearts that are going to shape the world. And it’s exciting for me to see. So I could stay here all day, actually, but they won’t let me. So that’s my favorite part.
All right, okay, let’s shift around here. It’s going to be a boy, it’s going to be a boy, it’s going to be a boy. Okay, young man, white shirt, who just — oh, it’s just so painful. (Laughter.)
Q My name is Reggie (ph). I’m 10 years old. My mom works for the NSS. How surprised were you when your husband became — has been elected for — when he — for the President?
MRS. OBAMA: It was another shock. Shocking thing. Well, first of all, there has never been an African American President of the United States ever, right? Ever. So when I grew up and when he was growing up, that wasn’t something that I envisioned was even possible, right? And I think a lot of people didn’t believe that it was possible. But I think a lot of people hoped that it could be possible, right? Because we’re a country that’s all about equality, right? That’s what my kids say. Equal means equal. That means everybody has the same opportunities to do whatever they want to do. And I think it’s cool when that actually works on so many different levels, even the presidency of the United States.
So I was excited, and not just for my husband, but I was excited for us. I was excited for all of you, because now you all know that anything is possible. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter how big you are, how small you are. It just matters how hard you’re willing to work, right? That's all that matters. You’ve got to put in the work, right, and you’ve got to be serious about your goals. And if you do that, anything is possible. And little things like Barack Obama being President, I think, sends that message to you guys in very small ways.
And I'll be excited when a woman becomes President of the United States. And that's going to happen one day, as well. And that will be exciting and shocking for the very same reasons. All right? Thanks.
Okay, our last question. It’s going to be a girl, it’s going to be a girl. I know, it’s just — trying to keep it balanced.
All right, on this end there's a little hand right there in a dark shirt. Yeah, you, you, yes, please stand. You are the last question.
Q My name is Adin (ph) and I’m 10 years old. My dad works for the CEA. And my question is, what's your favorite book and why?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, man, you guys are tough. All right, okay, there are kids books that I enjoy, everything from “Goodnight, Moon” — do you guys — have your parents read “Goodnight, Moon” to you, guys? “Where the Wild Things Are” — we just read — the girls read that at the Easter Egg Roll. So I have a ton of those books.
One of the books that I loved — one of the first books that I loved and read cover to cover in one day — not because anybody made me read it but because the book was good — it was called — it was a book called “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison. And that book helped me love reading, because before then reading was kind of like something you did when you had to do it. But that book, it like grabbed me and pulled me and I just kept reading and kept reading. And any book that does that for me — do you feel that way when you get a book and you just can’t put it down, whether it’s a mystery or one of the gossip things like “Camp Confidential”? Who reads “Camp Confidential”? Sasha is loving those books. I think those are just — they just suck her in and she can’t put it down.
So those books are my favorite books. And there are many, many others books that I’ve read like that over the years, but “Song of Solomon” was my first one.
What about you? What’s your favorite book?
Q “Harry Potter.”
MRS. OBAMA: “Harry Potter” — oh, yeah, well, there’s “Harry Potter.” You know what, I didn’t read “Harry Potter” books because that was something Malia and her dad did together, and I kind of stayed out of that. So they read — they’ve read every “Harry Potter” book cover to cover, both of them. They read it together. And they loved those books, too. They both do.
Well, I think I have to go. Yeah, I know. I don’t want to go. But I think you guys have a pretty busy schedule. I think there are some lunch opportunities and some other stuff that you’re going to see.
But I just want to take the time to tell you all, first of all, thank you. Thank you for asking such good questions. Thanks for taking the time to come and learn more about what your parents do. And thank you for being so patient. You know why I say patient? It’s because I know your parents work hard and they’re working hard for the President and they’re working hard for the country, and I know that sometimes that means that you guys don’t get to do everything you want to do with your parents. I mean, Malia and Sasha are the same way. When you have parents who are working for service, sometimes you guys sacrifice, right? Sometimes they miss your games, right? Sometimes they can’t help you with that project because they’ve got a meeting. Sometimes they miss a birthday because they had to travel, right?
I know all of you have experienced that and sometimes it’s frustrating, right? And you figure, why do I have to share my parent with anybody ever? And my girls feel that way sometimes too. But it’s important for you to know that your parents are doing this to help make life better for you and for millions of other kids not just here in the United States but around the country. So they’re doing really important stuff when they’re not with you.
Because, listen, there is nothing that your parents want more than to spend every minute with you. I know that because that’s how I feel about my girls. So don’t ever think that they don’t care about you because they’re busy at work. They’re doing it for you. All right? So thank you for being patient.
And keep studying hard. You got out of school today, but I hope everybody is keeping up with the assignment they missed today and you’re going to do your homework, maybe even write a paper about what you did here to show your teachers that you weren’t just goofing off. Can I get — how about that? Yeah — (laughter.)
I want you to eat your vegetables — yes?
MRS. OBAMA: I want you to exercise.
MRS. OBAMA: And exercising is anything. It is dancing. It’s playing with your dog. It’s being outside. I want you all to turn off the TV. Turn it off.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes! Yes! Turn it off — some of the time, some of the time. Make a deal with your parents to turn it off some of the time. Can we get that — come on, come on, let’s just strike a deal. I want you to read a book. Read some books! Yeah, reading some books.
So we’re striking a deal in this room. It’s between me and you guys, right, because if you do that, you will be better people. You will! You will one day be President of the United States. You’ll be who your parents and your grandparents are. You can do that. But you’ve got to do all the other stuff first. All right?
All right, thank you guys. (Applause.)
11:38 A.M. EDT
Tags: Barack Obama, Family, Office of the First Lady, Speeches and Remarks, The First Lady, United States, Whitehouse