Malia and Sasha Obama get advice from Bush sisters in touching open letter
When Malia and Sasha arrived at the White House eight years ago, they were welcomed and shown around by the Bush sisters — Jenna and Barbara. In a beautiful welcoming gesture, the Bush twins wrote a letter to the young girls, then 7 and 10-years old, packed with plenty of useful advice for living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Slide down the banister of the solarium,” and “Play Sardines on the White House lawn,” the Bush sisters suggested to the young girls. Now, two terms later and on the brink of a tumultuous presidential transition, the Bush sisters penned another letter to the Obama sisters, women to women. This time they offered advice for their next major journey: life after the White House.
The beauty of this letter, posted in it’s entirety by TIME, is the bridge we all desperately need right now. It’s proving that decency can rise above partisan affiliations and lines. It shows that human kindness has no party.
The letter starts with the first time the sisters met Sasha and Malia, “We saw both the light and wariness in your eyes as you gazed at your new home.” They continued, “The four of us wandered the majestic halls of the house you had no choice but to move in to.”
The sisters spoke some serious truth here: that move for a young child must be scary as hell. Any move for a child can be scary. But the magnitude of a move to the White House, we can’t even imagine. To see how poised the Obama sisters have remained while living there, is truly remarkable.
“We have watched you grow from girls to impressive young women with grace and ease. And through it all you had each other. Just like we did.”
There is only a tiny subgroup of siblings that can understand what’s it’s like to have a parent that’s POTUS. And what it’s like to grow up in the public eye. The Bush sisters are part of that small bunch. They also know what it’s like when life in the White House ends.
“Now you are about to join another rarified club, one of former First Children—a position you didn’t seek and one with no guidelines. But you have so much to look forward to. You will be writing the story of your lives, beyond the shadow of your famous parents, yet you will always carry with you the experiences of the past eight years.”
The sisters jokingly lamented about their own young adult years.
“Enjoy college. As most of the world knows, we did,” they wrote. LOL.
After the great one-liner, the sisters advised the Obamas to seek individuality and authenticity.
“And you won’t have the weight of the world on your young shoulders anymore. Explore your passions. Learn who you are. Make mistakes—you are allowed to.” They continued, “Those who judge you don’t love you, and their voices shouldn’t hold weight. Rather, it’s your own hearts that matter.”
As hard as it must be to be the First Children, the Bush sisters pointed out what a rare gift it is too.
“Take all that you have seen, the people you have met, the lessons you have learned, and let that help guide you in making positive change. We have no doubt you will.”
Their exposure to the world is unmatched.
“Traveling with our parents taught us more than any class could. It opened our eyes to new people as well as new cultures and ideas.”
In the end, the sisters empathized with Sasha and Malia and all that they have endured by being First Children.
“You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House. You have listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who had never even met them. You stood by as your precious parents were reduced to headlines. Your parents, who put you first and who not only showed you but gave you the world. As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin your next chapter. And so will we.”