Michelle Obama on Life as First Lady: Not Missing Cooking, Saving the Hard Jobs for the President

By Kate Barrett

Apr 23, 2009 12:52pm

From Sunlen Miller

First lady Michelle Obama spent some time this morning answering questions from children of White House employees as part of national "Take Your Child to Work Day."

"Most important, you don’t have to go to school today," the First lady cheered to the kids of White House employees who were spending the day at work with their parents.

Among the 17 questions raised by the children aged 7 to 13 most had to do with the Obama family’s new life as the First Family.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the twenty-minute question and answer session -and the only negative question (besides what would happen if Bo the dog went missing) was when a young boy stood up and asked, "What will happen if something bad happened to our country…..like the earthquake in China. What would you do?"

"Well first of all I would wake my husband up," the first lady responded, "that’s the beauty of my job. I’m married to the president and he has to worry about all of that."

Mrs. Obama explained to the boy that the President would likely gather his cabinet and call the leaders of other countries to figure out how to help.

"And I’d go back to sleep and ask him how it turned out," she joked.

While answering many questions what it’s like to be First Lady, Mrs. Obama regularly tired to explain that she is not someone on a pedestal but someone just like their own moms.

"It feels just like probably being a mom. You know, being a worker," Mrs. Obama said when asked what it feels like to be the First Lady, "I consider this a very important job."

"I have the best job being first lady. I think I have the best job in the White House because, like I said, I get to, I don’t have to deal with the hard problems everyday. I have some problems that I have to deal with but I get to do the fun stuff. And there’s so much fun to be had with service."

Michelle said because she doesn’t get paid she can do whatever she wants to do resulting in a "mix of substantive stuff, things dealing with issues, but also fun stuff."

When asked what she does with her free time, besides walking Bo, Mrs. Obama says likes to "sneak out without telling anybody" and test out places to eat in Washington, DC, like Five Guys restaurant.

"I probably do just what your mom does everyday. I spent my free time with my kids," she added, mentioning that she likes to go to her daughter’s soccer games.

But unlike other moms, the First lady has a whole staff to help her out with the cleaning and the cooking, something she said she’s lucky for.

"There’s a big staff of people who work in the kitchen, and people who clean the chandeliers. So it takes a lot to run the White House and fortunately I don’t have to do it by myself." And a moment of honesty from the First Lady. “I don’t miss cooking,” she answered, “I’m just fine with other people cooking.” When asked how much she gets to see the President, Mrs. Obama said compared it to the campaign life that they had just lived though. “I spend more time with him here in the White House than I did in the last few years,” Mrs. Obama said, adding that her family eats dinner together every night and if she needs to her husband she can just walk into the his office, "I can see him whenever I want.” BO-MANIA
The kids really wanted to know about all-things Bo Obama, the first puppy. "Oh he is a crazy dog. He loves to chew on people’s feet,” the First Lady joked and then recalled that the first puppy was being loud last night at 10 pm. “The President and I came out and we thought someone was out there. And it was just Bo. And he was playing with his ball. And it was like another person was in the house.” Mrs. Obama said she is spending a lot of time right now doing a lot of dog walking and dog training. And in responding to a question as to what she would do if Bo got lost, she said she’d be confident in his return. “I would be very sad first of all,” the First lady says, “he has tags and hopefully somebody would find him and bring him back. But the South Lawn is gated, it’s a very gated area so it would be pretty hard for him to get out.” THE FIRST HOUSE
The children also wanted to know housing logistics of the White House. The blue room is the First Lady’s favorite room in the White House because it’s one of the brightest with the best view. During sleepovers the First lady answered, the friends of her daughters wither sleep in their room or “upstairs where there is a TV.” And just where does a First Lady Sleep? “Its just the master bedroom. It’s just a bedroom it doesn’t have a particular name," the First lady laughed at the question. PUBLIC SERVICE
Mrs. Obama used her opening and closing remarks to the children to address the need for public service, no matter how young – and said that the children should be proud of their parents who are public servants in the White House. “Working at the White House is an honor and a privilege…none of us could do it without your parents,” the First Lady said, “Your parents got here because they worked hard when they were your age." The 180 children will spend the remainder of the day at the White House touring the garden, taste testing goodies from the pastry chef, meeting the K-9 unit of Secret Service, and walking in the South Lawn. “You’ll to see where Barney," the First Lady said accidentally mistaking the last dog occupant in the White House, "not Barney – but where Barney used to run and now where Bo our dog plays.” – Sunlen Miller

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