WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated "take your child to work day" at the White House by taking questions from kids of White House staffers. Of course, there was a query about Bo, the White House dog.
Said Mrs. Obama, "Oh, my dog. Oh, the dog. Oh, he is a
crazy dog. He -- you know, he loves to chew on people's feet.
"I'll tell you a story about Bo last night. It was like 10:00 p.m. at night, everybody was asleep, and we hear all this barking and jumping around, and the President and I came out and we thought somebody was out there. And it was just Bo. He was playing with his ball. And it was like there was another person in the house. He's kind of crazy. But he's still a puppy, so he likes to play a lot."
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release April 23, 2009
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
ON TAKE YOUR CHILD TO WORK DAY
10:34 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Well, hello. Wow, look at you, guys. What's going
on? Did they tell you not to talk? (Laughter.) You can talk, you
Welcome to the White House. Thank you, Katie, for that
introduction. First let me just get off script for a second. What have
you guys done so far?
Q We've met the people who give the letters --
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, yes, that's good, the correspondence people. What
Q We also have questions --
MRS. OBAMA: Ooh, questions for me. Good, good. (Laughter.) What
else? What else?
Well, you're going to get to see this whole place. What -- what
did you have to say, sweetie?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, yes? Somebody who worked for the Vice President,
great. Well, so far, so good. But most importantly, you don't have to
go to school today, right? Yeah! (Applause.)
But hopefully you'll learn something today. So before we get
into questions, I just wanted to say good morning and welcome to the
White House. We're really pleased to have you guys here for this day,
Take Your Child to Work Day. Has anybody participated in this before?
Cool. This is a good day. Well, this year's theme is "Celebrating
Service: Country, Community, and Family." And we invited you all here
so you could learn more about what your moms and your dads do when they
come to work every day.
And when someone works at the White House -- and I think somebody
told you this earlier -- they're called a "public servant." And it's
not just people who work at the -- in the White House, but it's people
who work in government, in the non-profit sector, people who work in
city governments. They're people who do a ton of things around this
city. They are all public servants, and that means that you're working
every day for the community that you live in. And they work on all
sorts of projects that affects things like the food that you eat, the
air that you breathe, the school that you go to. Their work touches so
many parts of your lives.
And working at the White House is an honor and a privilege, and
your parents take their jobs very seriously. We couldn't do what we do
-- the President, me, none of us could do it -- without the support of
people like your parents who work very hard. And I know that they take
a lot of time away from home. Sometimes you might think they work a
little too hard, they could come home a little earlier. But we
appreciate what they do, and we appreciate your sacrifice, and just
understanding that your parents are busy not just working to make your
lives better but children across the nation and around the world.
And what's important to know is that your parents got here because
they worked hard. They worked hard when they were your age. And I tell
my kids this all the time: If you want to work in a place like the
White House, no matter what you do, now is the time that you have to
start thinking about working hard in school. And I'm assuming that
everybody here works hard in school, right?
MRS. OBAMA: That you make sure you're there every day on time,
that you do your homework, that you listen to the teachers, that you do
your best. I tell my girls this every day: It doesn't matter what
grade you get, but it matters how well you do. And my question is, for
them, did you do your very best?
And that's what I know your parents want for you and what we all
want for you, is that as you think about developing into young people,
that you think about how well you're doing in school, that you're
listening to your teachers and that you're paying attention -- because
we're counting on you guys.
In a short period of time, you'll find that you'll be in high
school, then maybe you'll go to college, then maybe you'll go on to get
another degree. But pretty soon you'll be adults out here doing really
fun stuff, maybe something like what you've seen people here doing at
the White House. And we want you to be prepared and excited.
But most of all we want you to think about serving your
communities, because you don't have to be a White House employee to do
it. You can do it now. You can do it first of all by listening to your
parents. That's a service in and of itself, just being a good kid. But
you could volunteer at a homeless shelter, right? You could work for a
soup kitchen. You could volunteer in a garden. You could help tutor
another kid in your class who's having trouble. You could walk your
neighbor's dog, mow the lawn. There's so much that you can do right
now. And we want you all to start thinking now about what you can do to
be good public servants, not when you grow up but right now.
So we hope you have a great day. I think you're going to get to
walk around the White House and see the great rooms that we have here.
You're going to get to go outside on the South Lawn, and it's a
beautiful day. We planted this wonderful garden, and I haven't seen it
since the rain, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it's going and what
you think of the garden. I think there's some big chocolate Easter egg
out there that they're going to show you. You'll get to see where
Barney -- not Barney, but where Barney used to run and now Bo, our dog,
So I hope you guys have fun and you really think about, you know,
what you want to do when you grow up and what it takes to get there.
So now I'll stop talking, because we already have one question
right now. Yes, young lady. Why don't you stand up and tell me your
name and how old you are.
Q My name is Aylis Davenport (ph) --
MRS. OBAMA: There we go.
Q And how does it feel to be the First Lady?
MRS. OBAMA: You know, it feels just like probably being a mom,
being a worker. I've worked all my life -- I've worked in corporate
America, I've worked for non-profits -- and I consider this a very
important job, but I have to take it just as seriously as anyone who
does their job. I wake up every morning, first of all, making sure that
my kids get to school on time and they do their homework.
And then I get to have a lot of fun because I get to do things like
come and talk to you guys and go out to schools and plant a garden and
go visit military families. So I think it's a lot of fun, the job that
I have. But it feels good, actually. Thank you.
All right, let's get another question. How about that young man
right there in the nice striped tie? You in the white shirt, turn
around. That's you.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, okay, all right, we'll come back to you, we'll do
you next. What did you say?
Q -- well, how did you -- if something bad happened --
MRS. OBAMA: Stand up for a second. Stand up, okay.
Q What will happen if something bad happened to a country?
MRS. OBAMA: If something bad happened to -- like what?
Q Like the earthquake that happened in China -- what would you
MRS. OBAMA: What would I do?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, first of all I'd wake my husband up if it were
at night. (Laughter.) And I'd tell him, hey, buddy, you're the
President, get down to the Oval Office and call some leaders. You know,
that's the beauty of my job. I mean, I'm married to the President and
he has to worry about all that. So I think he would probably call
together his Cabinet members. He'd probably talk to the people who were
in charge. He'd talk to the Secretary of State. He'd call the leaders
of other countries, and they'd work to figure out what they could do to
help another nation in trouble. And then I'd go back to sleep and ask
him how it turned out when I woke up the next morning. (Laughter.)
All right, let's get that young man that was in the back that we
Q Well, what does your dog like to do?
MRS. OBAMA: What does my daughter --
Q Your dog.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my dog. Oh, the dog. (Laughter.) Oh, he is a
crazy dog. He -- you know, he loves to chew on people's feet.
(Laughter.) I'll tell you a story about Bo last night. It was like
10:00 p.m. at night, everybody was asleep, and we hear all this barking
and jumping around, and the President and I came out and we thought
somebody was out there. And it was just Bo. (Laughter.) He was
playing with his ball. And it was like there was another person in the
house. He's kind of crazy. But he's still a puppy, so he likes to play
All right, in the pink. Oh, miss Finnigan (ph), how are you?
Q My name is Mazy (ph).
MRS. OBAMA: I meant Mazy (ph). What are you doing here? You're
supposed to be in school. (Laughter.)
Q And what -- if you had to choose a job for the day in the
White House, what would you choose?
MRS. OBAMA: Say that again?
Q If you had to choose a job in the White House for a day, what
would you choose?
MRS. OBAMA: If I had to choose a job in the White House, it would
be this 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 every day. 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 in service. And it's -- because
I don't get paid, I get to do whatever I want to do. And it's kind of a
-- it's kind of a good mix of substantive stuff, things dealing with
issues, but it's also fun stuff.
So I think I have actually one of the best jobs in the White House.
All right, let's go this way. All right, you, young man, in the
Q My name is Jaren (ph). I was going to ask, what do you do in
your free time when you're not busy?
MRS. OBAMA: What do I do in my free time when I'm not busy? Ooh,
that doesn't happen often. (Laughter.) Well, right now I'm taking care
of this puppy. (Laughter.) So I'm doing a lot of dog walking and dog
Every now and then I have this thing that I like to do with some of
my staff members, and we sneak out, without telling anybody, and we go
and test out all the fun places to eat in D.C. -- like I went to Five
Guys and nobody knew it. It was good. (Laughter.) So we sometimes we
sneak out and do little things like that.
And I like to go to my kids' games. They've got soccer now, so I
spend a lot of time doing their things and watching their movies and,
you know, making sure that their friends have a good time.
So I probably do just what your mom does every day. I spend my
time, my free time, with my kids. All right?
Okay, let's get the young lady in the back, way in the back with
her hand up. Yes, you.
Q Hi, my name is Kayla Bennett (ph) and I'm nine years old, and
I just wanted to know how is it like taking care of the White House,
Sasha, Malia and the dog?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, it's a lot of work but I have a lot of help.
That's something that is fun about living in the White House. I mean,
there are dozens and dozens and dozens of people, some of the people
you'll meet today, who really help make that happen.
There's Admiral Steve Rochon who's here. He's the head usher.
Where is the Admiral? Is he here? He was back there with me. See, he
ducks in and out. But he's in charge of everything. He makes sure that
the carpets are clean, that the tours happen, that food gets prepared,
that the lawns are taken care of. He helps me make sure that I get
support if I need help with the dog.
So there's a big staff -- people who work in the kitchen, and
people who clean these chandeliers. So it takes a lot to run the White
House, and fortunately I don't have to do it by myself. There's a whole
staff full of people who makes sure that things work really well. And
I'm lucky because of that.
All right, young man in the red striped shirt. Yes, you, sir.
Q How is the garden growing, and what's your favorite plant in
MRS. OBAMA: You know, so far, so good. But you guys will be able
to see the garden, and you can let me know how it looks. But I think
it's going well, because we had a lot of great rain and now we're
getting some nice warmth and sunshine. I think some of our snap peas
might be having a challenge, some of our peas might be having a problem.
But the section that I like best is the row of herbs that I
personally planted, number one, and then there's a section from Thomas
Jefferson's garden that I think is really cool, because we got some of
the seedlings that were planted at Monticello, and planted a little
section in the White House Kitchen Garden. So take a look at that,
because it's roped off. So I like those two parts. So let me know how
you think it's going, all right?
You, young lady.
Q What's your least favorite thing to do in the White House?
MRS. OBAMA: What's my least favorite thing to do at the White
House? Wow. You know, I don't know that there's a least favorite thing
to do. Gosh, I don't have to do anything that is all that bad. That's
a really good question.
I don't think I can list one thing that I just don't like to do.
Everything that I do here is really pretty worthwhile, even if it's
hard. Maybe it's running on the treadmill. (Laughter.) Why don't we
put that down -- when I have to run. Sometimes I don't like to do that.
But pretty much everything that I've done here so far has just been a
real joy, especially things like this today.
All right, let's see. Okay, in the green -- green sweater.
Q What do you --
MRS. OBAMA: Is your sweater green? (Laughter.) Do you have on a
Q Oh. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: I'll get you next. You'll be next.
Q Wait, can I --
MRS. OBAMA: You want to be up? Well, you know, we still have
time, so I'm -- you see, I'm trying to get around to every section, so
we'll do green sweater.
Q My name is Cynthia (ph) and what is it like to be at the White
House, to live at the White House?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, since I answered that question already, it's
fun, okay? It's great. So I'll do that real quick answer, and then
we'll go to the gentleman in the white shirt.
Q My name is Adi (ph), and do you like cooking for your family,
even though you have cooks and all of that? (Laughter.) Do you like
MRS. OBAMA: I don't miss cooking. (Laughter.) I'm just fine with
other people cooking. Their food is really good. (Laughter.) You guys
got that down; they're writing that down. (Laughter.)
All right, let's see. Young man in the dark green shirt way in the
back row. Stand up, say your name, your age.
Q I'm Brian (ph) and I'm nine years old.
MRS. OBAMA: Okay. (Laughter.)
Q What would happen if Bo were to run away, and what will --
MRS. OBAMA: Ooh, yes. What would happen if Bo ran away? I would
be very sad, first of all. But -- oh, that reminds me we have to make
sure his tags are on. He has tags, and hopefully someone 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. But I think everyone at the White
House would probably help go out and find him, and we'd probably ask you
guys to help look for him and call him and make sure you brought him
back. But we try to -- that's why we're working on training him, so
that he doesn't run away and he listens when we call him. And so far
he's doing okay, so we hope we don't have that problem. Thank you.
MODERATOR: You have time for two more questions.
MRS. OBAMA: Two more? No, no. Okay, you in the red. I know, I
Q My name is Caitlin (ph). Is there any time when the Secret
Service is not with you?
MRS. OBAMA: There are times in the residence when they're not with
me, but any time I go out anywhere, they're with me. All the time.
(Laughter.) But they're very nice. They're nice to have around. It's
not hard having them around. They're a great group of people, and they
are funny and they do their jobs really well, and they're really kind
people. So it's not hard having them around. All right?
Okay, the bowties have to -- we got to get a question from the --
Q My name is --
MRS. OBAMA: Wait, wait, first of all, let me just -- is there a
theme here with you three? Are you brothers, are you friends -- oh,
MRS. OBAMA: Very handsome. Well done. Friends -- and friends.
Q What gave you the idea to start a garden?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, what gave me the idea to start a garden?
Actually, it came from the challenges that I think I had and many moms
have, parents have, of trying to figure out how to make sure that my
kids, my girls, ate healthy food. And sometimes it's hard to do that
when you're a busy mom.
Before I was here, I had a job and I had -- I was always rushing
around, and the kids' schedules were busy. You guys know that feeling,
right? You come home, you're rushing, mom's just gotten home from work
or you've gotten home from an activity and you're trying to figure out
what you're going to feed your kids that are healthy and you don't have
time to prepare something. So you pop in something quick, and it's not
always the best thing.
So I started trying to change the way that we ate in my household,
before we even started running, trying to get my kids to eat more fruits
and vegetables. And I realize that in some communities it's hard to get
fresh fruits and vegetables.
So I thought, what a nice idea if we got to the White House if we
could plant a garden right in our backyard, because it's not that
expensive to do. It's a lot of work. It can be a lot of work. But we
planted a pretty big garden, and you can produce foods with a smaller
crop of land, and it only cost us a couple of hundred dollars to plant
this big, huge garden.
So I thought that if we talked a bit to kids mostly about what it
means to eat good food and what good food tastes like and that
vegetables that are grown fresh really do taste good -- which is what my
daughters found out, is that a carrot that comes right out of the ground
is actually kind of sweet and tasty and it tastes a little different
from kind of a -- sometimes carrots you get in a store -- that maybe we
could help educate other kids who could help educate their families, and
we'd be a healthier nation. So that's one of the reasons I decided to
plant the garden. Thank you for asking.
Okay, let's get back to the sister that I promised. You can ask a
question but it's got to be a different question. It's got to be a
question that nobody has asked.
Q Where do your kids go to school?
MRS. OBAMA: Okay,
that's a new one. They go to a school call Sidwell. They go to the
same school that Mazy (ph) goes to, which is why I asked her why she
wasn't in school, because Sasha is in school. It's like, what are you
doing here? (Laughter.) So they go to -- they go to a school they just
started in January, and they really like their school. They've made a
lot of good friends and they have great activities.
Q I have another question.
MRS. OBAMA: She has another question, so you must please hold.
Q When your kids have friends over, and they stay a night, where
do they stay?
MRS. OBAMA: Sometimes they sleep in the girls' rooms, or sometimes
they sleep upstairs where there's a TV. (Laughter.) They like sleeping
in front of the TV, probably like you all do when you have a sleepover.
All right, two more questions. Two more questions. Young lady in
the red shirt, right here, yes. She's standing up.
Q What's your favorite room in the White House?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, what's my favorite room? You know, actually I
like the Blue Room that you'll see, because it's one of the oval rooms.
And there are a series of oval rooms, starting from the bottom -- a room
we call the Dip Room, the Diplomatic Room; you come up to the first
floor, there's the Blue Room; and then you go up to the next floor and
there's something called the Yellow Oval Room. And they're all oval.
But when you look out, it's one of the prettiest views of the White
House lawn, and I love the oval shape, and they have balconies, and when
the flowers are blooming it looks really pretty out there and the sun is
So it's really one of the brightest rooms in the house. So you
guys will probably get a chance to see it. But I like the Blue Room.
One more, one more, one more question from a boy, because we did a
girl. Okay, young man in the second row with the vest on, you.
Q My name is Alonchez (ph) and where do you sleep?
MRS. OBAMA: Where do I sleep? In my room. (Laughter.)
Q What room?
MRS. OBAMA: Huh?
Q What room?
MRS. OBAMA: It's just the master bedroom. It's just a bedroom.
It doesn't have a particular name.
All right, we'll do one more question. That was an easy one.
(Laughter.) Okay, still this section. Okay, young lady in the cream
shirt. All right, and then we're done.
MRS. OBAMA: I know. Blame them. (Laughter.) Let's see who we
should blame. Joe, are you to blame? Blame Joe. All right. Okay, go
Q Do you spend a lot of time with President Obama?
MRS. OBAMA: Do I spend a lot of time with President Obama? I do
spend a lot of time with him. Actually I spend more time with him here
in the White House than we did for the last few years because it takes a
long time here in the United States to run for President. And it was a
two-year campaign, it was a very long campaign. And he was traveling
all around the country, as well as the other candidates. And when he's
traveling around a lot, it's really hard to spend time together. But
now we live where we work, so I can see him whenever I want. And we eat
dinner together as a family. And if I really need to see him, I can
walk to his office, and, you know, cool stuff like that. So I do
actually spend a lot of time with him.
All right, guys. It has been so much fun talking to you all. I
wish we could stay here for the rest of the day. I would have a great
time talking to you guys. But you have a lot to do here -- a big
program. And there's more to see than just this room. And there are
going to be a lot of other people you can talk to, to find out more
about what they do, what their jobs are like.
It's good to know that this group is not shy. So continue to ask
questions. You can ask anybody here about anything you want to know
about the White House -- what rooms are fun and who does what where.
There are people here who have worked here much longer than I've been
around, even, who will be able to answer any questions that you have.
So ask a lot. And have a good time. And just remember, what's the
goal? What's the one thing that we want to think about when we leave
here today? Do you remember what I said earlier, that I want you guys
to think about doing?
Q Having fun.
MRS. OBAMA: Having fun, that's always a part of it. But what --
service, right? You remember that? Being public servants. And you
don't have to wait -- yes, young lady, what's your --
Q Well, also helping our community.
MRS. OBAMA: That's right. That's right. That's right. Okay, one
more -- what do you have to say, one more good point about public
Q Do your best.
MRS. OBAMA: Do your best, that's right. Do your best. That's all
that we ask. And trust me, if you're doing your best, it is probably
good enough, right? Just do your best. And help your folks out. Make
life easy on your parents, okay? (Laughter.) All right, go back, give
them a hug, tell them that they're great, tell them you're proud of
them. All right? Okay, you guys have fun. It was great seeing you.
END 11:00 A.M.