Growing Up — Well — at the White House

President reveals pride, concerns about daughters Malia and Sasha

It is no secret that President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle came to Washington fiercely determined to preserve whatever normalcy possible for their two daughters, Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8.

The nation’s first daughters have adjusted “unbelievably well,” according to the president, who spoke to Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview that aired on NBC’s Today show Tuesday morning.

“The happiest thing about the past year and a half has been the girls' adjustment. They have just been terrific. They're doing well in school,” the president said. Both girls attend the private Sidwell Friends school.

He also pointed out that life is a little freer for the girls than for their parents.

“They're not as constrained. They can wander around. Their Secret Service protection is a lot more low key,” Obama said.

He also described a life that is typical for many American children.

“They've got soccer, they've got basketball, they go sleep over at their friends' houses,” he said.

But it’s not all typical. “Sometimes I've got 12 little girls screaming on the third floor of the White House,” he added.

Lauer asked the president if he’d received any daughterly requests for sleep away camp this summer.

"I have and I handle it like every other dad, which is saying, 'Don’t you want to spend it with me?'"

The president did not get specific, but said his daughters would be with their friends this summer doing whatever they would be doing if he were not in the Oval Office.

He also disclosed that he will be more worried about his daughters when they hit their teens: “Because I think that’s the time when you’re already embarrassed about your parents, and then imagine if your dad’s in the newspaper every day and people are calling him an idiot, so I feel a little worried about that.”

But on the other hand, “Malia and Sasha have just turned out to be unbelievably well-adjusted kids. The thing that's most important to me is that they are so respectful of everybody and haven't gotten on any airs.”

The president expressed no doubt about the source of his daughters’ humility.

“I attribute that directly to Michelle," he said, "because she wouldn't put up with any of that stuff.”

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