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Civics in Action
August 2020

What's It Like to Grow Up in the White House?

 

 

By Talia Cowen

For more than 200 years, the White House has been the official office of America’s presidents. But it’s more than just a fancy workplace. It’s also the house where the first family lives. The White House has 132 rooms and a team of people who keep the first family safe and comfortable. Sounds awesome, right? Keep reading to take a peek at what life might be like if you lived there.

While the president of the United States does the hard work of running the whole country, a first kid gets to live in the home that comes with his or her parent’s job: the White House. It’s a luxurious residence with 132 rooms to explore—plus a team of expert staff whose job it is to keep the first family safe and comfortable. Sounds awesome, right? Keep reading to take a peek at what life might be like if you lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Hobby Heaven

Hobby Heaven

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The White House is the perfect place to start a new hobby. Ever wanted to try flower arranging? Head to the flower shop and get tips from the White House’s official floral designer. He or she makes hundreds of floral arrangements every week to decorate your home. Or if you’re interested in woodworking, check out the carpenter’s shop. It has all the tools you need to make and fix furniture. You could also give calligraphy a try. Calligraphy is a fancy kind of handwriting. It’s what the White House’s chief calligrapher does all day. He or she designs and creates official documents for the president.

With so much talented staff under one roof, the White House is the perfect place to pick up some new creative hobbies. Ever wanted to try flower arranging? Head to the flower shop and get tips from the White House’s official floral designer, who makes hundreds of glamorous floral arrangements every week to decorate your home. Or if you’re interested in woodworking, check out the carpenter’s shop, which is equipped with all the tools you need to make and fix White House furniture. If calligraphy appeals to you, you can get to know the chief calligrapher, who designs and creates official documents for the president, from party invitations to proclamations.

Games Galore

Games Galore

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

If you’re looking for a more active hobby, try out one of the many sports you can play at the White House. As a first kid, you can use the tennis and basketball courts, a jogging track, and a swimming pool.

If you’re looking for a more athletic hobby, try out one of the many sports available to you on the 82 acres of land at the White House. As a first kid, you’ll have access to the full-sized tennis and basketball courts, a jogging track, a putting green, and a swimming pool.

Tourists Welcome?

Tourists Welcome?

Susan Walsh/AP Images

Sure the White House is your home. But remember that it’s also a museum filled with beautiful art and furniture. While it’s amazing to live around so much history, you’ll have to be extra-careful not to break anything. Also, don’t forget that five days a week, you’ll have tourists walking through parts of your home. About 2 million people visit the White House every year!

Sure, the White House is your home, but it’s also a museum filled with priceless art and furniture that past presidents have collected over the years. While it’s amazing to be surrounded by so much history, you’ll have to be extra-careful not to break anything. Also, don’t forget that five days a week, you’ll have hordes of tourists walking through parts of your home—about 2 million people visit the White House every year!

Sweet Treats

Sweet Treats

Storms Media Group/Alamy Stock Photo

If you have a sweet tooth, you should get to know the White House’s pastry chef. (Just don’t get in the chef’s way during the holidays. That’s when he or she is busy building a model of the White House out of gingerbread.) And if you like chocolate, there’s a special room in the kitchen where delicious chocolaty desserts are made.

If you have a sweet tooth, it’s definitely in your best interests to get on the good side of the White House’s pastry chef. (Just be sure not to bother the chef during the holiday season, when he or she is in the middle of building a gingerbread model of the White House.) And if chocolate is your sweet treat of choice, the pastry chef also commands a shop dedicated to creating decadent chocolaty desserts.

The Doctor Is In

The Doctor Is In

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

Got a toothache from all the sweet treats you’re eating at the White House? The first family doesn’t have to wait for a dentist’s appointment. There’s a dentist’s office in the basement! (And if you have a stomach ache from all that chocolate, there’s a doctor’s office there too.)

Got a toothache from all the homemade sweet treats available at your fingertips? White House residents don’t have to wait for a dentist’s appointment—there’s a dentist’s office in the basement! (And if you have a stomach ache from all that chocolate, there’s also a doctor’s office on-site.)

Dress to Impress

Dress to Impress

White House Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

As a first kid, you’ll probably go to a lot of formal events, like state dinners for foreign leaders. So living in the White House means you’ll be getting dressed up often. At these fancy dinners, you’ll have to sit and chat for hours with your parents’ friends and co-workers. On the plus side, these events might give you the chance to meet celebrities. First kids Malia and Sasha Obama met actor Ryan Reynolds at a state dinner in 2016!

As a first kid, you’ll be expected to attend a lot of fancy events, such as state dinners for foreign leaders. So living in the White House means you’d better enjoy getting dressed up with some frequency. At these meals, you’ll have to sit and chat for hours with your parent’s friends and co-workers. On the plus side, these fancy occasions might give you the opportunity to meet celebrities—just ask former first kids Malia and Sasha Obama, who met Ryan Reynolds at a state dinner in 2016.

Movie Night and More

Movie Night—and More!

Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

Relax after a long school day with a movie in the White House theater. The theater has enough seats for almost 40 of your friends, and you can watch any movie you want. You can also relax by playing pool or Ping-Pong in the game room, or bowling in the basement bowling alley.

Unwind after a long school day with a movie in the White House family theater. You’ll get VIP access to watch any movie you want, and the theater has enough plush seats for almost 40 of your friends. You can also relax by playing pool or Ping-Pong in the game room, or bowling in the famous White House bowling alley.

Agents Everywhere

Agents Everywhere

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It may seem that as a first kid you’d have everything you’d want. But there’s one thing that you couldn’t have: privacy. The first family has 24/7 security from the Secret Service. It’s a Secret Service agent’s job to keep you safe. That means agents follow you everywhere and never leave you alone. First kids have said these agents are pretty good at their jobs, so don’t try to sneak away!

It seems like as a first kid you’d have everything you’d want, but there’s one thing that you pretty much can’t have: privacy. The first family has 24/7 security provided by the Secret Service. It’s a Secret Service agent’s job to keep you safe, and that means following you everywhere and never leaving you alone. From what previous first kids have said, these agents are pretty good at their jobs, so don’t try to sneak away!