WASHINGTON—First lady Michelle Obama likes playing tennis, cuddling with dog Bo and rooting for the Chicago Bears.
Her favorite book? Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon.” Favorite colors? Lavender and purple. Favorite place on the White House grounds? The Rose Garden.
Favorite room in the Executive Mansion? The yellow Oval Room in the family quarters.
Obama, rather uncharacteristically, took one question after another Thursday. Her interrogators were a couple hundred curious kids visiting the White House for “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.”
Their parents work for the White House or partner agencies, such as the Secret Service or Office of Management and Budget.
Obama, appearing in the East Room, allowed this weekend will be taken up watching daughters Malia and Sasha play soccer and lacrosse.
Sasha Obama, 9, will soon graduate the fourth grade – “very exciting,” Mrs. Obama said – and join Malia Obama, 12, at the Washington, D.C. campus of Sidwell Friends School. The younger daughter now attends a Sidwell campus in suburban Maryland.
Having the girls in one location will simplify the morning routine for her live-in mother, first grandmother Marian Robinson, Mrs. Obama said. “Grandma will be happy because there’s one drop-off. That’s really the big thing.”
Among the children on hand were Austan Goolsbee's daughter, Aden, 10, and son, Addison, 7.
Goolsbee, on leave from the University of Chicago, is chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors and member of the Obama cabinet. His daughter got in the question about the first lady's favorite book.
The first lady also disclosed that dog Bo thinks of himself one of the family.
“Bo thinks he’s a child,” Mrs. Obama said, noting that if Malia and Sasha are sitting on her lap, he’ll barge in to dislodge them.
An 11-year-old girl asked Mrs. Obama if being first lady had any disadvantages. You just can’t walk out the front door and go to the store, Mrs. Obama said, recalling the days when she drove, did grocery shopping and hit the Target store.
“That would create a lot of problems for a lot of people. It would be chaotic.”
But difficulties are outweighed by the ability to “focus the country’s attention” on issues that she cares about, such an ending childhood obesity, she said. Another plus is meeting people like Beyonce, Willow Smith, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.
An 11-year-old boy asked which house she liked better, the White House or her old house?
She said they’re different and they like their Chicago house, too. “And when we get a chance to go back – and we don’t get a chance to go back often—that’s still home.”
Trips home mean going through their old rooms and closets and stirring up memories, she said.
“There’s a lot of memories there” in Chicago, she said. “So nothing beats memories, but we’re creating new memories here and in so many ways, this is home now. This is where the girls go to school, this is where most of their friends are, this is where their dad works, this is where we live, so this has become home, too.”
But they don’t miss Chicago’s winter weather. “We kind of avoid it in the winter,” she confessed. “We don’t miss the cold.”