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Video: Growing up Obama in the White House

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    >>> when president and mrs. clinton moved into the white house , they laid down the law, chelsea was off press. the obamas seem to be a little more open with the details of their daughters' lives. norah o'donnell has more on this. good morning.

    >> good morning to you, ann. this president and first lady do try to keep their young daughters' lives as normal as possible. they try to keep them away from the press and out of the news, but lately it's mom and dad who have been spilling the beans, talking openly about everything from malia 's new braces to sasha's love of hip-hop. president obama still calls his oldest daughter his baby, but even he admits she's growing up quickly.

    >> i don't have teenagers yet. malia is just -- just turned 12. say good luck, huh? she's my baby. even though she's 5'9", she's still my baby.

    >> but malia is no baby, a growth spurt over two years now has her almost as tall as her parents.

    >> and she just got braces, which is good because she looks like a kid, you know. she's starting to look too old for me.

    >> the president is increasingly sentimental in public about malia , especially her first summer sleep away camp.

    >> which she has never done before and i may shed a tear when she's on her way off.

    >> once off limits, the daughters are now everywhere, photographed on vacation from spain to martha's vineyard. the president is not only seen with them but likes dishing about his daughters.

    >> when i woke up this morning and i'm shaving and malia knocks on my bathroom door and peeks in her head.

    >> except when the president got in trouble for talking about malia 's grades.

    >> so, malia came home the other day. she had gotten a 73 on her science test.

    >> it's not just the president. the first lady, too, has spoken openly about her daughters' interests.

    >> malia 's one issue for her father is saving the tigers. so, we talk about the tigers at least once a week. and what he's doing to save the tigers.

    >> since it's back to school time, we learned that the girls get up at 6:00 am . they are not allowed any tv during the week. they've got to do their homework. why so much sharing about america's first daughters? advisers to the president say it's totally natural . the president and mrs. obama are proud parents and, like all parents, we love to talk about our kids. ann?

    >> all right. norah o'donnell this

Image: Obamas on vacation
Charles Dharapak  /  AP
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, visit Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine in July.
By
updated 9/3/2010 8:33:44 AM ET 2010-09-03T12:33:44

Twelve-year-old Malia Obama wears braces, toots a flute and is after her father to save the tigers. Younger sister Sasha, who is 9, shoots hoops like her basketball-loving dad and dances hip-hop. Both girls get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for school.

Barack and Michelle Obama put their girls off-limits to the news media after they moved to the White House, saying they wanted to keep their daughters' lives as normal as possible. But tidbits about the private doings of the youngest children to live in the White House since the Kennedy family do dribble out. Often they come from a surprising source: Mom and Dad.

It was President Barack Obama who revealed, perhaps to his daughter's utter embarrassment, that Malia had been fitted with braces. He also spilled her plans to spend most of August at camp.

"She's my baby," he said of Malia, straying from his script at a political fundraiser of all places. "Even though she's 5-(foot)-9 now, she's still my baby. And she just got braces, which is good, because she looks like a kid and she was getting ... she's starting to look too old for me."

The prospect of spending even part of the summer without his first born around also had Obama waxing sentimental.

Story: Audacity of taupe: Designers, pundits rate Oval Office redo

Asked about summer vacation plans, Obama told an interviewer that "a month of it's going to be taken up with Malia going away for camp, which she's never done before. And I may shed a tear when she's on the way out."

In a separate interview, Obama said his daughters have savings accounts and they get an allowance, though he didn't say how much they get or how often they get it. He also said the girls are getting old enough where they may be able to start earning money by baby-sitting.

The first lady is also guilty of breaching the privacy wall she and her husband put up around the girls.

"Malia's one issue for her father is saving the tigers," Mrs. Obama told an audience of young children visiting the White House. "So we talk about the tigers at least once a week and what he's doing to save the tigers." Tigers apparently are Malia's favorite creature.

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Mrs. Obama also has revealed that:

  • Both girls play the piano; Malia also plays the flute.
  • Sasha likes to dance hip-hop. The girls also are working on their tennis game.
  • They are not allowed to watch TV during the week, and weekend viewing is limited.
  • The girls can only use the computer during the week if they need to for school assignments.

The White House says the Obamas are just behaving like, well, parents when they talk about Malia and Sasha.

"I think they're proud of their daughters and, you know, they do not try to go out of their way. There's no strategic decision to talk about them," press secretary Robert Gibbs said in an interview. "I think a lot of it comes from ... pride."

Story: For Obamas, a (mostly) uninterrupted vacation

Even their grandmother, Marian Robinson, has dished a detail or two; she said the girls have separate bedrooms.

Presidents aim to shield kids from media glare
The Obamas aren't the first presidential parents to want to shield children from life in the fishbowl known as Washington.

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy sought to keep her children, Caroline and John Jr., out of the glare as much as possible. After she left the White House, she advised other first families with young children, such as Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, to do the same.

Chelsea Clinton, who got married in July, was curly haired and entering her teenage years when Clinton was elected president in 1992. "Saturday Night Live" incurred her parents' wrath by lampooning her, but the news media generally respected her privacy. It also helped that the Clintons were so tightlipped about Chelsea that it sometimes failed to register that a child was living at the White House.

George W. Bush's twins, Barbara and Jenna, were living away at college when he was sworn in to office in 2001.

Anita McBride, who was first lady Laura Bush's chief of staff, said presidents and first ladies are constantly weighing how much they want to shield their children from exposure against how much they're willing to satisfy public curiosity by talking about them.

"It's a very fine line," she said. "People want to know about what's happening with first families and children in the White House."

Obama apologized to Malia for revealing test score
For the most part, Malia and Sasha are kept out of the limelight, except for some trips, such as the family's vacations in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and other appearances with one or both parents.

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The White House has invited some coverage of the girls, such as on their first day of school in Washington in January 2009. But it also complains about other coverage, even when the girls are brought to official events where the media are present.

The girls have spoken publicly at length just once: They and Bo, the family's Portuguese water dog, joined the first lady last year for a Christmastime reading of stories at Children's National Medical Center in Washington. They took turns reading a story and helped Mom answer questions afterward.

Once, though, the president got into trouble by talking about Malia — and ended up apologizing to her.

During a speech last year about his education priorities, Obama told the audience at a Madison, Wis., middle school how disappointed Malia was after getting 73 percent on a science test. Gibbs said Obama later apologized to her.

Gibbs didn't know if Dad also apologized for his revelation about the braces.

"I think he is now very careful to make sure that he does not stray beyond what is acceptable," Gibbs said.

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Photos: The first daughters

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  1. The first daughters

    The historic halls of the White House ring with the energy and enthusiasm of youth: presidential daughters Malia and Sasha. Here are images of their adventures over the years.

    First Lady Michelle Obama, Sasha, Malia and Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson exit their plane upon arrival at Beijing's Capital International Airport on March 20, 2014. Michelle Obama arrived in Beijing with her mother and daughters to kick off a seven-day, three-city tour where she will focus on education and cultural exchange. (Feng Li / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Helping hands

    President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha, right, make burritos at DC Central Kitchen as part of a service project in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2014. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Back home

    President Barack Obama talks with his daughters Sasha (center) and Malia as they arrive back at the White House on Jan. 5, 2014 after vacationing in Hawaii. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Christmas singing

    The first family — from left, Marian Robinson, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama — join performers singing Christmas carols during the 2013 Christmas in Washington presentation at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 15, 2013. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Taking the dog out

    Sasha (left) and Malia Obama are pictured with their family dog Bo as they welcome the official White House Christmas tree on Nov. 29, 2013. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Helping the needy

    Malia (left) and Sasha Obama hand out Thanksgiving food at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 27, 2013. (Larry Downing / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Motherly love

    Michelle Obama hugs her daughter Sasha as Malia looks on during a visit to the Glendalough Valley in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains National Park on June 18, 2013. (Artur Widak / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Short story

    Michelle Obama watches as her daughters Malia (center) and Sasha read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" to children during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2013. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'First' selfie

    Sasha (left) and Malia Obama take a photo of themselves during the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2013. (Joe Klamar / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. I want to push it

    President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia prepare to push the button to light the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6, 2012. (Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Pardon me

    President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia share a funny moment during the presidential turkey pardon, a White House Thanksgiving tradition, on Nov. 21, 2012. Cobbler, pictured here, and its companion Gobbler got to spend the rest of their lives at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate in Virginia. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The first ladies

    First daughters Malia (far left) and Sasha and first lady Michelle Obama smile as they listen to President Barack Obama accept the 2012 U.S Democratic presidential nomination during the final session of Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 6, 2012. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. The first daughters

    President Obama and his daughters, Malia (left) and Sasha, watch from the Treaty Room television in the White House as first lady Michelle Obama takes the stage to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 4, 2012. (Pete Souza / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. South Lawn stroll

    Sasha Obama (right) walks with two friends toward Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House before departing for Camp David in Maryland on Aug. 24, 2012. (Larry Downing / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Sunday service

    President Obama with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia (second from left) walk from the White House to a nearby church to attend services on Aug. 19, 2012. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Good catch!

    President Obama (left) laughs with daughter Malia Obama after she caught a Nike T-shirt while watching the Olympic men's exhibition basketball game between Team USA and Brazil on July 16, 2012 in Washington, D.C. She tossed the shirt to a child behind her. (Alex Brandon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Day at the park

    President Obama holds hands with his daughters Malia (left) and Sasha (right) as they leave Sea Life Park, a marine wildlife park, with family friends including Marty Nesbitt (rear right) on Dec. 27, 2011 in Waimanalo, Hawaii. (Carolyn Kaster / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Christmas in Washington

    First lady Michelle Obama (left), Sasha Obama, Malia Obama and the President, sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" with performers Jennifer Hudson, Victoria Justice and Justin Bieber, at the annual Christmas in Washington taping at the National Building Museum on Dec. 11, 2011. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Entertained by elves

    President Obama, the first lady and daughters Sasha and Malia, attend the Christmas in Washington taping at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 11, 2011. (Pete Souza / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Caroling with Kermit

    First lady Michelle Obama, with Kermit the frog, sings songs with daughters Malia (left) and Sasha after the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the Ellipse across from the White House in Washington on Dec. 1, 2011. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

    President Obama walks with Sasha (left) and Malia (right) as they tour the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Oct. 16, 2011, at the National Mall in Washington. (Carolyn Kaster / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Family portrait

    The President poses with his family on a sofa in the Oval Office on Dec. 11, 2011. (Pete Souza / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Holiday gala

    President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia (right) and Sasha pose for a group photo with children dressed as elves prior to attending performances at the annual Christmas in Washington gala on Dec. 11, 2011 in Washington. (Pool / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Turkey day

    President Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, pardons Liberty, a 19-week-old, 45-pound turkey, on Nov. 23, 2011, on the North Portico of the White House. At left is National Turkey Federation Chairman Richard Huisinga. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Vineyard vacation

    President Barack Obama (right) and his daughter Malia Obama, then age 13, bike together on a bike path through Manuel F. Correllus State Forest while vacationing on Martha's Vineyard on Aug. 23, 2011 in West Tisbury, Mass. (Pool / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Traditional dance

    First lady Michelle Obama stands with daughters Sasha, second from the right, and Malia, on the right, as they are welcomed Friday, June 24, 2011, by traditional dancers in Gaborone, Botswana. (Charles Dharapak / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Historic visit

    Former South African President Nelson Mandela, right, poses with first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia, left, and Sasha at his home in Johannesburg on June 21, 2011. (Debbie Yazbek / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Bringing Dr. Seuss to Africa

    First lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha (center) and Malia take turns reading to children from "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss as they visit the Emthonjeni Community Center in Zandspruit Township, Johannesburg on June 21, 2011. (Charles Dharapak / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Space: The final frontier

    President Barack Obama, daughters Malia, left, Sasha, first lady Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Robinson, partially hidden, examine the tiled underbelly and landing gear of Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 29, 2011. In an interview, Obama concedes he's nervous about his daughter Malia turning 13 on July 4. Asked how he'd feel about Malia's starting to date, he said he might ask the date "what his GPA is" and what his intentions and career plans are. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Ready, set, go!

    Malia, right, Sasha and other younger children wait for the starting whistle during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on April 25, 2011. (Chip Somodevilla / Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Iconic Rio landmark visit

    President Barack Obama with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha tour the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, on March 20, 2011. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Helping out

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by participating in a community service project at the Stuart Hobson Middle School in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17, 2011. They are joined by their daughters, Malia (right) and Sasha. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Returning home

    President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters disembark from Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland in Aug. 29, 2010 upon their return from a family vacation in Martha's Vineyard. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Queen of the world

    President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Sasha take a boat ride in St. Andrews Bay in Panama City Beach, Fla., in August 2010. (Susan Walsh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Hole in one

    Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama give their daughter Sasha a high five after she got a hole in one at Pirate's Island Miniature Golf in August 2010 in Panama City Beach, Fla. The first family visited the area to help promote tourism and check on cleanup efforts from the aftermath of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Dan Anderson / Pool photo via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Princess for a day

    Spain's Queen Sofia (right) embraces Sasha Obama in presence of first lady Michelle Obama and Spain's King Juan Carlos (center) as they arrive at the Marivent Palace in Palma de Mallorca, Spain in August 2010. Michelle and Sasha toured parts of Europe as part of a private trip with longtime family friends. (Manu Mielniezuk / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Perk of presidential kid

    President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha react to the halftime show during the game between the Washington Mystics and the Tulsa Shock at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., in August 2010. (Ned Dishman / NBAE via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. On top of the world

    Malia talks to Ryan Hutcherson (left) a member of the White House advance staff, as the first family visits Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, in July 2010. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Moment with dad

    President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia arrive for Malia's soccer game at Rudolph Elementary School in Washington, D.C., in June 2010. (Yuri Gripas / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A Christmas reading

    Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia read Christmas stories to children at the Children's National Medical Center on Dec. 22, 2009 in Washington, D.C. The first lady toured the hospital visiting the Heart and Kidney Unit before greeting 200 patients and hospital staff. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Forgiving a fowl

    President Barack Obama, right, stands alongside a turkey named Courage as his daughters Malia and Sasha and National Turkey Federation Chairman Walter Pelletier, second from the left, pet the bird during the annual turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House on Nov. 25, 2009. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. On the precipice

    The first family tour Hopi Point at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona in August 2009. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Peace on shirt

    Malia Obama walks along the historical center in Rome, Italy on July 8, 2009, while the president was preparing for three days of G8 talks. She was sporting a T-shirt featuring the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's famous logo. (Schiavella-giglia / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Stately visit

    President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha (left) and Malia step off Air Force One upon arrival at Vnukovo Airport outside Moscow on July 6, 2009. The girls later toured the Kremlin with the first lady while the president met with Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev. (Denis Sinyakov / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Vive la France!

    Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha (left) and Malia arrive at the Pompidou Centre modern art museum in Paris on June 7, 2009. The family were cheered by huge crowds as they visited the Notre Dame cathedral. (Martin Bureau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. See Bo go

    Malia Obama runs with first dog Bo, followed by her father, President Barack Obama, and sister, Sasha, on the South Lawn of the White House in April 2009. (Ron Edmonds / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Daddy's girls

    President Barack Obama leans over to talk to his daughters Malia (center) and Sasha at the start of the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn on April 13, 2009. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. White House walk

    President Barack Obama walks down the White House Colonnade with his arms around daughters Malia (left) and Sasha on March 5, 2009. (Pete Souza / The White House via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Winter in Washington

    First lady Michelle Obama sleds with daughters Malia (left) and Sasha in the snow on the South Lawn of the White House in March 2009. (Pete Souza / The White House via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. First family

    President Barack Obama visits with his daughters Sasha, with arm around him, and Malia as he kisses first lady Michelle Obama in a private study off the Oval Office on Feb. 2, 2009. (Pete Souza / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. Hello, dollies

    Dolls "Sweet Sasha," left, and "Marvelous Malia" sit on the counter at Lamont's gift shop in Chicago's Ritz-Carlton hotel on Jan. 22, 2009. The dolls are from the Ty Girlz collection made by Ty Inc, the makers of Beanie Babies. The store quickly sold out of its first shipment of the dolls. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. Hail to the daddy

    Malia Obama, left, snaps a picture of her father in his tuxedo as sister Sasha jumps for joy before the inaugural balls in Washington on Jan. 20, 2009. (Pete Souza / The White House via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  53. Proud moment

    President Barack Obama has his hand on Abraham Lincoln's Bible on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009, as first lady Michelle Obama holds the Bible and daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 look on proudly. (Chuck Kennedy / Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. Chilly but cheerful

    Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama's sister, right, stands with his daughters, Sasha, right, and Malia along with Marian Robinson, mother of Michelle Obama, left, as they arrive for the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on a brisk Jan. 20, 2009. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. Helping hands

    Then-president-elect Barack Obama, wife Michelle (left) and daughters Sasha (second from left) and Malia pass out food at St. Columbanus Parish and School in Chicago on Nov. 26, 2008. (Frank Polich / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. Off to school

    Then-president-elect Obama drops his daughters Malia (left) and Sasha off at school in Chicago on Nov. 10, 2008. At right is a U.S. Secret Service agent. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. Daddy's here!

    Barack Obama is welcomed by wife Michelle and daughters Malia (center) and Sasha upon landing in Pueblo, Colo., on Nov. 1, 2008. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. Aloha

    Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama walks the beach with his daughters Malia (left) and Sasha during his vacation in Kailua, Hawaii on Aug. 12, 2008. (Marco Garcia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  59. A kiss for Daddy

    Sasha blows a kiss to her dad while he addresses the gathering via satellite on Aug. 25, 2008 at the Democratic National Convention in Denver as mom Michelle and sister Malia look on. (Charlie Neibergall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  60. Family gathering

    Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and wife Michelle watch an Independence Day parade with their daughters Malia (right) and Sasha in Butte, Mont., on July 4, 2008. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. Co-campaigners

    Then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama stands with Malia (left) and Sasha as he is introduced by his wife Michelle at Headwaters Park in Fort Wayne, Ind., during the 2008 presidential campaign. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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