I was living under a rock most of yesterday so I was caught off-guard when I stumbled upon a CNN story that some people (and by "some" I only mean a blogger named Sandra Rose), thought Barack and Michelle Obama's ten-year-old daughter Malia sounded "too grown."
This confused me because in "black person land" I always interpreted "too grown" to mean you had a gum smacking, hand-on-hips, slang n' profanities spewing, BET-watching, munchichi popping nightmare of a child. I did not interpret it to mean someone who knows their subject-verb agreements and effuses with excitement over the prospects of White House room decoration and puppy ownership.
Then as I read Sandra's comments it seemed to be more about the fact that Malia spoke so well and appeared to "criticize" her father when she explained the type of advice she gave him for greeting kids. Then it evolved into a slam on the Obamas' parenting.
It’s obvious that these kids spend all of their time around adults. But it’s important for children to interact with other kids their age to enhance their social skills.
We’ve all seen what happened to Michael Jackson.
I watched the video of 10-year-old Malia Obama speaking to a reporter and I swore I was listening to a 19-year-old speak! One of my loyal readers wrote, “This little girl is the most well articulated 10 year old I’ve seen in a long time,” — proving that Malia is too mature for her age.
While I wasn't aware that Barack and Michelle were forcing the girls to tour the chitlin' circuit singing James Brown and Jackie Wilson songs, it soon dawned on me that some folks like Rose were still operating from the fearful "seen, not heard" rule on children. That some people (particularly insecure people) find children who already speak and behave better than most college co-eds intimidating. I imagine they must recoil in horror during every Dakota Fanning interview.
These sort of children aren't scary for teachers, who love them, or their parents, who adore them, or old people, who find them endearing, or TV news reporters, who are used to having terrible, terrible interviews with kids because most can't articulate their thoughts. They aren't scary to anyone except those who think any child who has half brain is an indictment on the fact that they are an adult with no brains. Suddenly being loquacious and charming is a mark of bad parenting (as opposed of doing the Munchichi/pop-your-body craze of the late 80s.)
I knew of no one, no one, who'd taken issue with this interview. Not even on FOX where even Bill O'Reilly was delighted by Malia's charm.
Everywhere I read, from Michelle Obama Watch to CNN's blogs, people defended the Obamas or thought the interview was adorable. Malia obviously engages in conversations with her parents where her opinion is welcomed, but it is also obvious who is the boss too. This isn't an Andrew Giuliani situation where at seven the son of Rudy scrambled all over his father, eventually spilling water him while Rudy was being sworn in as mayor of New York.
But despite it being a non-issue that only raised the hackles of one pesky blogger, Barack Obama announced July 9 that no one is talking to his daughters ever again.
Some people think he is bowing to pressure from the opposition, but I think the only opposition on this issue is in Barack's heart. He'd underestimated the public's appetite for any insider information on his family, even the benign, cute kid kind. His children are so lovely and so precocious that they could probably pull a few electoral votes on their own, but Barack didn't have Malia and Sasha to get elected. He had them out of love with Michelle.
Truth is if Barack allowed Malia and Sasha to be interviewed more often it would be a gateway drug to stalking the girls during soccer matches and recess. People, including myself, are already fascinated by the Obamas clothes, marriage, politics, children, lifestyle and that will gladly absorb whatever crumbs the Obamas drop. People who hate the Obama's also can't get enough of it either, and while you can't protect your daughters from everything, you can stop any further encroaching on their privacy.
While Sandra doesn't buy it, I can believe that the Obamas were having so much fun getting some time together for the holiday and Malia's birthday that they just let protocol slip and allowed their daughters to sit in on the interview. It wasn't particularly formal. All four were feeling the love. But what caught them by surprised was how rabidly this was absorbed by the media and the internet, and how people could not get enough of hearing Malia's opinions, even if they were harmless.
So if you're wondering why we won't learn Miss Maila's views on "Hannah Montana" any time soon, you can just point your finger at me or yourselves or Sandra Rose or Bill O'Reilly or CNN or the press corps. We're the reason. Once you give us a taste we're only going to want more -- for good and for worse.
This doesn't mean we should stop loving every cute family photo we can get of them, but this should also keep everything respectful and keep the crazies from getting out of line.
Color me disappointed, but ... Oh, well. We'll always have this sole interview where you revealed your father's penchant for leaving his briefcase in the way, Malia.