Going to college with your big brother, who is a star athlete and then trying to, you know, create my own space.
That was kind of a pain.
Yes, it was tough. You're really paying me back now because now I can walk down the street without people like are you Michelle's brother?
It's like I love it. Can I take a picture? I love it. It's a big payback. Payback. I found a way to go back and I needed to go. Thank you, got it until I. Hi, everyone, I am Michelle Obama, and this is the Michelle Obama podcast.
In this episode, I'm going to be talking about a type of relationship that means a great deal to so many of us, and that is our relationships with our siblings. So I'm going to be talking to my hero, my first hero, my big brother, Craig Robinson. Craig was just everything to me growing up smart, hardworking, popular. After high school, he went on to become a star basketball player at Princeton and then played professionally overseas.
He was very successful in business and investment banking and he has written a book of his own.
But to me, he will always be my big brother, and this relationship couldn't be more vital to who I have become. So without further ado, welcome to my show. Craig, thank you for having me on your show.
And that sounds so odd. Oh, my sister has a show and on it, my brother is here with me on my show.
We're going to just talk about life, our life growing up, and it's probably good to start at the beginning.
Do you remember moving from South Parkway to Euclid?
No, because I was one I was a baby. I have no memories from when I was a baby. So no. OK. OK, so we have to explain this park with Gardens was in the hood, right. Right.
And it wasn't quite a project. It was a co-op. Yeah.
But it was kind of subsidized housing and in the back was the train yard and it was a young boy's dream to sit there and just watch all of these things going on. There were cranes back there.
There were trucks back there, men with hard hats and lunchboxes, a little boy's fantasy and watching grown men with lunchboxes and helmets.
And mom used to let me sit out there and eat my lunch when they were eating lunch and watch what they were doing.
Oh, I remember that you in your little boy wonder thought. We are living like we are in the back in the alley by the train. Then there's a big bend in foot fence with the top layer of barbed wire. That would be roseborough. It was like barbed wire.
Are you kidding me? You know, if you threw an apple in it, it would stick.
What do you remember most about the Euclid house?
I remember a couple of things I remember first and foremost in the summertime how hot it gets because there was no AC I don't think was AC invented by, you know, our Aunt Robbie owned the home with her husband, Terry, Uncle Victor territory.
Yes. But we called him Terry for some strange reason, a distinguished the most distinguished man we knew at the time I ever knew.
I mean, Terry, was he distinguished? You know, now we know it is distinguished, but he was just kind of I was like, why is this guy dressed up all the time?
Wore a three piece suit every day, every day, every day. He'd be mowing the lawn with his fedora on and he still had the vest on.
He took the jacket off. He was cutting the grass. He was good. He had the best doing yard work. Yes.
He was relaxed, his tie on every single day.
When I think of Euclid, when I think of our childhood, I think of music, music was the backdrop of everything. We didn't do anything without music.
And that's because our father was a big jazz lover and had a huge jazz album collection that that he cherished.
And our maternal grandfather? S side was a big music enthusiast. And he had he had a wall full of jazz albums.
I remember both of those homes, South Sides home and our home, where you walk in and dad's got a record playing.
And it could have been Dizzy Gillespie or Miles Davis or Thelonious Monk. The loneliest monk was one of his family. Thought that was some made up name. Yeah, we did looniest a small it's like really dead. Is that really his name? Who did that? Who did that to that man. The thing I liked about them is that they they didn't treat their albums and music as you can't touch these little kids. We were taught how to use a record player properly.
Remember, you had to learn how to take the the album out of the vinyl and you couldn't touch the side.
You couldn't put your finger finger on it on the you had to hold the rim like it was a precious disc and you just blow on it, you know, to clean up just a light blow. You know, you couldn't spit on it, you know, it was a light blow.
And you lay it on the turntable, it put it on the first song and let it play, you know, and we used to like a certain song on an album. You tried to put it in that little groove and you'd always get in trouble because it would go right or you'd scratch it. Yes.
You know, but we were still allowed to figure it out. You know, it was there was never, never any hands off. So we had our own albums and played our own music. And one of our my favorites was the Jackson five.
Stop the love you say yes and ABC on the B side. Yes, that was that little record on our five.
Yeah, on our little bitty little makeshift record player. It wasn't the stereo system, but it was the thing you plugged in and you could put the disc in the 45 so you could play it. Mm hmm.
Yeah, but we used to love playing the Jackson five.
Stop the of you say do you. Oh, darling, take this slow. Oh. Someday you'll be on a throne by.
And then Robbie lived downstairs and taught piano, so, you know, we heard piano music trickling up through the floorboards of students, good and bad playing lullabies, and we both took piano lessons, although you gave up quite early and you never looked like you practice, you never.
Well, I would practice, but I've been practicing my bare minimum.
If they said you should practice 30 minutes, I would practice 30 minutes in like 15 seconds.
It's like. And that's it. And that's it.
I'm done. I'm going on to the next thing. And you are very hard on yourself. I'm going to digress a little bit because you would practice.
And here's our practice. I'm playing the tune and I hit a wrong note. I just keep going. Mm hmm. And I finish it off and then I'll go back again. You practice.
You don't, don't, don't, don't. Yeah. I got to start over then a little bit. Got to start over. Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't let them.
And you just kept starting over because you had to play the whole whole thing perfectly well.
That was, that didn't matter. That's my that's maddening.
You all teased me a little bit about the perfectionism, but you didn't make me feel bad about it, you know.
No, it was it was it was like a badge of honor slash joke slash. I hope she grows out of this.
I remember you saying I've got a good idea. We can't get mom and dad to stop smoking.
Let's break all their cigarettes like sounded like a good plan. It sounded like a great idea. Well, that was after a couple of other attempts.
We tried to dip there.
Remember, we took the tips of the cigarettes and dipped in hot sauce, lemon juice and hot sauce, thinking that one that that would turn them off if that would turn so that they wouldn't notice that their cigarettes were damp and they would just think, oh, cigarette butts are hot.
You know, maybe I should cut this out. You know, I remember distinctly dad putting one in his mouth.
I go up, there's something wrong with these filters and it didn't work.
So I guess we figured after we dipped them the tips and lemon juice and hot sauce, then what was left. But to just crush destroy them did teeny pieces. So who actually did the crushing? I know we both did.
I remember because there was a there were like two cartons underneath the sink and we didn't even realize how expensive cigarettes were, you know, and we broke two cartons worth.
But the really scary but funny thing about that whole thing was when mom when they got home and they were looking for their cigarettes and going around the house and we're and we're sitting at the TV looking like trying to look innocent but but all always thinking it's working.
It's what they know. They won't notice that their cigarettes are missing. They're gone. And then so be it will be the end of it.
It'll be like, oh, well, we can't find her cigarettes. I guess we're done with that bad habit.
And then finally, mom steps on the garbage can and the top lifts up. She's Frazier. Frazier, get in here. Craig Shell. What is going on?
Well, and by then we were in tears.
Start thinking of like we didn't really think this through this. This is not how we thought the reaction would be. This isn't how this was supposed to end. We were supposed to end happily with people, with our parents going with you.
Young people were correct. And I'm glad you threw away our cigarettes. And now we know the error of our ways. It didn't work out that way. We got in trouble. We got in trouble. Got in so much trouble.
Give me one of your best memories.
Once I got up the gumption to go outside, could you know what kind of kid I was? Right. You had a like that was a force field around that house. You never left.
And I write about it in the book. It's like I really did believe that little kids were kind of messy, you know?
I mean, in my I like my little world of my dolls and the scenarios I would set up with my blocks and your GI Joe's and, you know, so there was that part of the house for me that felt like a sanctuary.
It's like in our little play space, I'd have my world set up and I was very territorial.
Oh, yes. I noticed I noticed that I didn't read too much about how you used to keep me away from your situation.
I wrote about that. I think I was honest about the fact that I didn't want you interfering.
I didn't want your energy because I created a whole world for myself. Were Barbie and Ken they were divorcing or they had a baby? There was some drama. Yeah. Going on. And I felt like your play energy would mess with my the plotline.
Yes. Of my yes. Of my doll life.
I remember that about Euclid, you know, playing in the house until I got ready to be outside with the other kids.
You loved your inside, but you would come out in the backyard because you were you play with me. And I don't think people really know you used to play football in the backyard. You would play baseball in the backyard. We play wiffle ball. You could hit, you could catch. We play running bases when we had a third if dad came back there.
Well, I was like your little play dummy. Yes. Because and I talk about this because that was the part of the beauty of our relationship. Even though I could be a little brat, you always included me and dad always expected me to be able to be your equal in sports. So you never babied me, you know. Right. Like you. You can hit the ball, you can catch, you can run, you can throw. And you you guys, you and Dad never excluded me from learning how to box.
Learning how to do everything that the boys were doing. And I really reveled in the fact that I could keep up with my big brother.
Oh, well, that's good. But it was selfish because I knew once you got good, you could come up with us to the park and be on our team.
But our neighborhood community was something that I enjoyed riding our bikes, you know, learning how to ride your bike for the first time on the sidewalk and then you'd graduate to being able to cross over to the other side.
That was a big step.
It's like, OK, I'm on this side of the street and now Mom is giving me permission to go to the corner and ride my bike across to the other side of the street and ride up and down that.
And then you could graduate to riding in the street just up and down the street.
The big step was going around the block.
Just like do you remember the first time we rode around the corner together, around the block together, tell the story that when want to hear your version? Oh, it was first of all, I was so proud that Mom, let me have you with no supervision off the block.
She was set up to be like you were taking me to the moon. You would have thought I was taking you in a car somewhere.
I almost crashed because I was too busy turning around, looking at you to make sure you were right behind me. I was like, you're OK. I'm OK. OK, OK.
You know, thinking about that, that was a big milestone for mom, letting your kids be independent. And, you know, I think things that mom and dad let us do that way. Yeah. Sort of helped our development. You have to teach kids how to be independent, which means that at some point you got to trust them, that they can make decisions on your own, which now that we're parents, you kind of think how hard that is to let your kids go, you know, to let a five year old and how you were seven seven.
It showed that she trusted you, you know, which meant that I could trust my big brother. Yeah.
And that's something. You know, I don't know if you know this, but at Brima, where we went both went to grammar school in sixth grade was when they started teaching sex education.
And you know how mom and dad were about telling us the truth about everything. Right. And I was very inquisitive. So the the test that the teacher gave us was just a group of words.
And we had to identify if the if the words were male or female or both.
Mm hmm. Well, I got all but one word, right. Mm hmm. Now, part of it was because I could take tests the right way, right. Because I knew if I didn't have this piece of equipment, it probably was the women and the one I got wrong.
Mm hmm. Menstruation. Hadn't heard the word, however, because I'm older than you and you hadn't gotten there yet.
And Mom never talked about it.
So I put that under men because of menstruation, that that wasn't a problem.
Problem was, I only got one wrong. So Mom got a call from the school saying.
We have something we'd like to talk to you about. We had a sex ed test and your son got too many, right? That's crazy.
That crazy hair and she went up to school.
So what were they? Were they accusing you of cheating where they know you know, they I don't know what they were accusing me of being a pervert.
What? I mean, what was the what was the problem?
I think the problem was they were worried. I was too far ahead to be in the class with all these kids who didn't know their sex ed for sex.
Were they going to put you in advance? I don't know.
Yeah, I know where they're going to send you to the Playboy Mansion.
I don't you know, I mean, what it's like sometimes the logic of grown people as they deal with children. Right.
And it's it is a real testament to mom's parenting because she didn't go crazy. She went up and talked to the teachers and said, did it ever dawn on you that when kids ask you questions, you just tell them the right answers?
I think for me, having a voice, a lot of it happened because I always knew I had parents that would back me up.
They would get us if we did something wrong, they would they weren't. These kind of our kids can never do no wrong.
But when we were right, you know, when it was fair, when we had truth on our side, they were right there with us. So it made it easy to go to adults who were in charge of us and just ask simple questions like this isn't fair.
I don't know why you you're accusing me of that. You know, and a lot of kids don't have that.
We were we were fortunate that that and our parents. Absolutely. Another fond memory of dad was the time I asked him, I said, Hey, Dad, are we rich? Mm hmm. And he didn't rush to an answer like, no, we're not rich. He said to me, What do you think?
You think we're rich? And I said, and this was typical Robinson parenting. Right. Ask you the question that you just asked them while they were thinking about how they were going to answer it.
And I said, well. We get to eat out every now and then we go to the drive in which we, you know, that was a big deal going to the drive in and we have our own car. A lot of our friends didn't have cars.
You know, we live in a nice place. I was like, by golly, we must be rich. And he said, well, you know, if you think we're rich, I'm going to show you the next time I get paid.
I'll show you how our budget works.
So Friday, he gets paid, he gets paid all of his check in cash and he's like, Hey, Cat, come in here.
Is he used to call me Cat. And I go in their bedroom and on the bed, he's laid out what was probably, you know, 400 dollars, but it looked like it was like two thousand dollars sitting on the bed.
And he said, well, here's what I get paid. And I was like, oh, my God, we are rich.
And it's like, wait, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute, hang on, hang on.
He's like, where do we live? I was like, well, we live here. He's like, well, we have to pay rent here. And I was like, Oh yeah, that makes sense. So how much is that? And he takes a few 20s off and he puts that aside. So that goes over there. And I was like, man, we, we are it's like, well that car out there, that deuce and a quarter that costs, we have to pay for that every month.
That's a hundred dollars a month. So he takes another hundred dollars off and he proceeds to do this with all the bills.
And we get down to where he's got like fifty dollars and I'm still thinking fifty dollars. That's a lot of money.
And he's like, well wait, wait, we got to buy groceries and we have to buy gas for the car. And you guys like eating out every now and then.
So he got down to where there was twenty dollars left for the week and then he said he had to give us a little allowance and it basically got down to where there was ten dollars left.
Now I left out a very important part because here's where I get my sort of fiscal responsibility. Before he did anything, he took out twenty dollars and paid himself and said that goes into a savings account.
And I think that's the kind of lesson that could have been learned in a bunch of different ways. But he had a way of making that one. I mean, that's I remember that like it happened two weeks ago.
This conversation with the former first lady, Michelle Obama continues after the break. Well, everybody knows I love my big brother, and you were one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, you were my first hero. But it's not like you're not a pain in the butt sometimes. For example, going to college with your big brother, who is a star athlete, entering Princeton and trying to, you know, create my own space and having this big looming shadow of a brother over me.
That was kind of a pain.
Yes, it was tough. You're really paying me back now because now I can walk down the street without people like are you Michelle's brother?
It's like I love it. Can I take a picture? I love it. It's a big payback. Payback. But what about you now, you were an athlete who didn't play organized sports, that's how I always described you, because I've I've seen you run as fast as boys and play softball with the boys. But you chose not to play organized sports in high school.
Some of it was as the younger one, I was trying to contrast myself against you. And because you were the sport kid, even though I like sports, it was almost like people assumed, you know, you must play basketball. You know, so little Stuben me was still like, oh, you you assume I should play basketball?
Well, I'm going to go over here and I'm going to learn how to dance and I'm going to do ballet and I'm going to do all these things because basketball is what my brother does. Don't define me by what he does.
I do something else and I will do it just to spite you. Don't make me. I know that's the mission.
I know everybody. You heard that. You heard it here first. It also makes me think when we talk about sports and all that, I think about how important sports and athletics and movement has been to our family.
Right. How much are dads?
Disability played a role in how we value sports and how we value movement.
And I was just wondering if you thought about that, too.
You know, I it took me a while to come to grips with the fact that Dad had had M.S. as a disability, multiple sclerosis, and I didn't really come to the realization that he was disabled until we go somewhere and people would say, hey, what's wrong with your dad's leg?
And I'd be like, oh, yeah, he's got a bad back.
He walks with a limp. He's had it all the time, but it doesn't affect what he has to do. He gets up and does everything.
So most of my childhood, I blocked that out. I blocked out the fact that he had a disability until it started to get progressively worse.
And he started having to use the crutches and get around and then we would go places, it was better if we had a wheelchair and that kind of thing, and then we started to really dig into what was wrong with them.
I always think about, you know, how much we miss Dad and I, I the way I handled that is I have this sort of fuzzy idea of what happened when he died and you did such an eloquent job and in your book becoming talking about that whole process. And it made me help me relive a lot of the stuff. And people ask me all the time, they say, you know, you and your sister seem really close and I'm like, of course we were really close.
And they ask us if we ever fight. Mm hmm. And outside of you being a little kid, not wanting me to play in your space, we'd never, ever.
Yeah. Fight or argue. And the last time we did was when Dad died.
We argued over what kind of casket to get Dad. And I was like, my emotions said, get him the most expensive thing.
Right. Because that shows our love and it can't be cheap.
And you were like, he's dead. And Dad wouldn't want to spend a bunch of money on a box. And we got into it, but I don't remember it.
I remember to me what I remember was the really the aftermath of it, because I know we argued about the coffin, but the best part about the fight was that we tried to have a real fight and we didn't know how we didn't know how to fight because we never got in any fights.
And so moms just started laughing. It was like, do you all hear yourselves?
You all hear yourselves, Frazier be hear cracking up.
Yeah. And then we started we were like laughing and crying at the same time. That's how I remember that. And my question to you is, what kind of went through your mind, looking back now on dad's death? And how do you see that having played out in our lives, him him dying so early?
Dad was always the glue for the whole family, not just us, but for mom side of the family, as well as his side of the family. He was the the patriarch.
You know, people came to dad because dad couldn't come to everybody.
So that made our house a hub in so many ways.
And I think when we lost him, it threw us for a second.
It's like, OK, here's our here's here's our core, our core was missing. Mm hmm.
And so we had to kind of rebound and remember all that he taught us and understand that family is key.
We won't have dad is our excuse to keep things going.
So we've got to be pretty consistent about setting up rituals and routines.
And as a result, we were always close. Mm hmm. But I felt like after dad's death, we were closer. Oh, yeah.
Well, I got I'm trying to remember the when I really started being protective of who you because you were such a mature youngster, that I was never worried about somebody being with you who I had to worry about.
I knew you could take care of yourself, but I remember once you got to college, that was when I was like, if anybody does anything untoward, you're going to have to deal with me.
Yeah. Which was not that helpful, you know. Yeah. Just ruined your whole dating. I mean, I don't know what you did.
Who knows the amount of play I could have gotten.
There may have been one or two guys you dated that I absolutely did not like. But for the most part, your decisions on who to date were solid, you know, just being able to judge people and develop your own relationships and be able to navigate that at a young age. And you were usually a pretty short term dating. And let me date this guy for a month map. And then, lo and behold, you meet Barack Obama.
So after a while you like finally going to let us meet him.
You drove up in your nice black Saab and you were driving, of course. And and he gets out of the passenger side. And I remember the first thing mom said, oh, he's tall. He's kind of good looking.
What you thought of him was important to me. Right.
So I did ask you in the the way that we learned that you could check out the character of another dude was to take him on the court and play some basketball. Yeah.
And I'm like, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. This is professionals I play with. We can't just bring in some guy that make him look bad. So I was like, oh, let me figure out how to do this.
So we have this pickup game and when you play pickup basketball, a lot is based on integrity because you have to call your own fouls.
They're no referees and there's always that guy who acts like he's a good dude until he has to make his own calls and he's calling fouls all the time.
Well, Barack wasn't that guy, and that was good to see. That was the first thing.
The second thing is he could actually play a little bit.
He wasn't lying about that play, how good he was. He was just like, oh, I'll play a little bit. And it spoke a lot to his authenticity as far as I was concerned. That was kind of a big star in his column that said, OK, we can keep going. Yeah, so thank you for that. My pleasure.
I'm glad it worked out. Because of dad's death, you were the person that I would go to.
So in that way, I depend on you more for all the things that dad would do for that double check, for that gut check for that.
I'm feeling nervous, just like when Barack was running for office, you know? I mean, it's like talking to you about my fears about it, you know, having you assure me that this is going to be OK. Like you were the one that said, you know, you married a guy who has this kind of ambition and this in in his heart.
So what are you going to do? You might I don't know if you remember.
Oh, I remember it. I remember because you were in one of your moods where you were like, now I want my husband to be like Frazier. Robinson. Mm hmm. And first of all, that's not fair to anybody.
That dude, he was a special guy, and there's no way you were going to put that pressure on. Any guy would never work. He'd never be married.
But second of all was what I said about I was like, listen, you're trying to penalize because let's face it, none of us thought that Barack could do what he was talking about doing.
You know, I mean, I don't know that he thought. No, well, could I will tell you, he may not have told you this, but when we first met and he came over for the first Thanksgiving, I figured I'm going to do the brother in law thing and take him to the side, hey, my dad's not here.
What do you think you're going to be doing for your future? And he was like, well, I would love to try this political thing. And I was like, oh, really? It's like like what do you want to run for mayor? For alderman? He's like, you know, no, I'm more a little bigger than that.
So maybe I run for Congress or run for the Senate or maybe even run for president.
And I was like, man, you don't want to say that too loud around here. Folks would think you crazy. And lo and behold, he makes it.
Do you remember when you first became first lady?
I mean, actually, the first time when we were having dinner waiting for the results, I met him at the Hyatt or wherever we were, and we had this dinner we were going to have that was going to be normal. No TVs, nobody had their phones on the table and all the kids were there. And we're sitting there trying to talk about things as if we were, you know, had just played, had had the kids, had a soccer match.
And we're over on a Saturday afternoon like we would normally do. And all of a sudden you hear Barack's phone buzzing. Then you hear your phone buzzing, then you hear my phone buzz. But Barack looks at his phone and he he takes a look at it, holds it up, looks at it straight on parallel, sets it back down. And he says. Well, it looks like we're going to win, and you were like, oh, and no one said anything for what felt like 15 minutes, but it probably was just, you know, 40 seconds.
And mom said, well, I guess we better get ready.
And all I could think of was, oh my gosh, Barack's going to be president and you're going to be the first lady.
And then let's jump ahead to see you guys on that stage. Well, first of all, when you guys went out on stage before we did, just grandpa at Grant Park lit up, lit up, filled with people, the whole roll of media, the bulletproof glass with the bulletproof glass and everything just came hit. And it was like, this has to be a television show.
And then you guys go out there and it's like you're the Beatles.
Hello, Chicago. If there is anyone out there. Who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. And it was eerie because it was a warm November night, which was unusual was it was unusual. It was only that warm in November and it felt so eerily silent, you know, I mean, people were excited.
It was it felt palpable. But it also felt like a calm. Yeah. In a way that because the whole city was shut down in order for this thing to take place in Grant Park.
So all that people had to get to the park on public transportation or on buses or whatever, and those tens of thousands of people all parked somewhere in the city and walked to that park that night.
And in what I remember distinctly was there was a feeling of both relief and hope.
And what people ask me all the time once you got there was, hey, how do you deal with the fact that people say all these horrible things about your sister and your brother in law?
And, you know, they don't understand how we view life.
Right. And I always would tell them I was like, listen.
We grew up with Frazier, Marian Robinson, first of all, you do not really care what people who don't know you think about you, that if you're doing what you love to do and you're doing the best job that you can do, it doesn't matter what those people say. And I just used that when I would listen to people talk about you on Fox or on CNN or they you know, they write mean stories and people would try and get me to be upset about it.
And I was like, listen, these two are doing what they love to do and they're trying to do the best for the most people. And that makes me proud, I think that's what made you a wonderful first lady and just watching you go from this sort of not for profit into the White House was spectacular. I'd never question that I would have the support of my brother and my mom, although when we when Barack was elected and it was time to move to the White House, one of the things that I wanted was to have mom come and live with me.
But when I asked Mom, would you come move to the White House, she was like, no, you know, I don't need to be in the White House.
I'm fine here because mom had been helping me with the kids all through the campaign and even before that.
Yeah, just balancing things. But who was the one who was able to convince Mom to move to the White House?
I was able to convince mom to move to. Why? Because. Because I'm her favorite. Yes. That's why I'm her favorite show usually.
Let's just take a moment to pause America. Yes. Michelle Obama is the least favorite child that Marian Robinson loves her son.
And I could be first lady. I could be the queen of England.
And she's still going to be like, hey, it's okay, Kevin. It's so thankfully, you convinced her that her poor daughter. Yes.
And I think mom kind of understood when I presented it to her that.
You guys are going to be so busy, she's not going to be intruding at all, the deciding factor was the girls really needed some stability while you all were trying to figure out what this new part of life was going to be and trying to create some continuity in their lives with this big transition was so important.
And we all knew that.
So it wasn't just mom moving, but everybody in our family, our friends, made it a point to be there for us. Yeah. So it was almost like every major thing we did in the White House. We invited our friends and family and created new traditions.
Everybody came to the White House with us, which had to have been a huge sacrifice on you all's part.
Yeah, but we all felt like we were part of the team of, hey, let's help you guys help this country, you know, and by helping you guys meant helping the family.
Of all the things that people want to talk about with you guys in the White House, right. Air Force One. Mm hmm. The White House itself, Camp David, the most questions I get are about Secret Service.
So people think that there's this glamorous thing that you have that they don't realize is so intrusive and out of the ordinary.
So how do you how do you deal with that? Well, first of all, to the credit of the Secret Service, they have some of the most professional people. They're trained. They care about what they do. They know what they're doing, you know.
So first of all, we have to go in thinking, all right, this is their job to write. Right? Because if something happens to me or to the girls, there's a congressional hearing. Somebody could lose a job. And I would have to explain that to the girls.
It's like, you know, I would joke. And it's like, you know what?
The Secret Service are here to protect the commander in chief of the United States of America. We are ancillary to that. You know, we are protected because if something happens to us, it could jeopardize the security of the nation, not because they care about you, Malia.
It's like they don't want to follow around an eight year old either. You know, think about how not fun it is for them to be sitting in a car while you were at a playdate.
But with that said, you know, Malia and Sasha each had a pretty extensive detail. You know, each of them had an armored car that they were in with two drivers in a lead car, with more men with guns and some women and a follow car. Imagine a second grader.
That's how Sasha went to school every day. That's how Malia went to school every day. This was all great when the kids were little. Right. Because their agents were like their best friends. It was like uncles.
And so you had agents that they were out at recess with the rest of the kids pushing the kids on the swings and they were in classrooms and kids would bring the agents cookies and make sure.
So the whole school kind of started to know, you know, that Malia and Sasha had a detail. We also were lucky that the girls went to the school with the Biden grandkids as well and are good friends. So Malia and Sasha weren't the only kids in their school with the detail.
So that kind of helped, like when Barack was coaching the Vipers, Sasha's fourth grade rec basketball, the.
These 4th grade girls from their school were on a parent led team and Mazey, Biden was also on the team.
So imagine on any given Sunday when the girls were playing, you know, you have me in the gym, the president of the United States, the vice president, the second lady, Jill there.
And everybody's detail is in this little YMCA gym, packed house, packed house, half of them, because we brought like 100 people that are guarding us. And you got agents lining up on the wall trying not to cheer. And Joe's yelling at Mazy screaming, score, score.
It was a scene. It was kind of a spectacle.
The leaders of the most powerful nation were in a gym watching fourth grade girls go up and down in bad basketball.
All right. All right. All right. What I want to know is at what point did you say, OK, although I'm the first lady, I'm going to treat these girls and their activities like I'm a regular mom?
Yeah, I mean, that just came with it, it was like if they're going to be normal, we have to be normal parents.
We made sure they had responsibilities and so we had to do things like institute rules. The housekeepers couldn't clean the girls rooms and that they had to make up their own beds and have a set of chores.
At least, you know, we grew up, you know, we each of us, we had our own set of responsibilities. I don't know if I remember what you did, but but I know I had to clean the bathroom.
We each had to do the dishes. We had our shared nights of doing the dishes.
What was your what what did you do? I had Monday, Wednesday, Friday. You had Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. And Mom did them on Sunday. I also had yard duty, cut the grass, rake the leaves, piles and what do you like. I don't know what your duties were.
They weren't my duties. Did you take the garbage out?
I took the garbage out. I'm sure I took the garbage out at some point. Yeah. After I left.
But I spent my years taking the garbage out, even though that times have changed. We both have tried to give our kids these responsibilities that sort of were given to us.
And somehow we feel like it's made us better people. So I think that's one of those things that for you to be able to do that even at the White House is is really admirable.
And I'm sure Mom I'm sure mom now as a grandparent was like, don't make those girls, you know.
And we know that's how mom was. You know, as a grandmother, she showed up totally different. She sure does. She spoils our kids.
It's like she acts like, you know, why do they have chores? It's like because you taught us to be where who are you, lady?
We grew up with elders in our midst, I mean, and we watched people age, you know, when our Aunt Robbie got she developed cancer, she had to be taken care of.
Remember when Terry, her husband, got older, he had dementia. Yeah. And would you know, there was always the. Oh, Terry got out.
You know, one of the memories is most vivid in my mind is dad asking me. And I remember Dad can barely get himself around. And he asked me to come down and help him give Terri a bath because he really couldn't give them a bath and lift him up and to see Dad bathing this man and this man being so thankful, you know, I get choked up just thinking about it.
And he was teary. Uncle Terry was a dignified man. This was the man who wore Three-piece suits and a door. He was a Pullman porter. He was an elegant man. But he got old. Yeah. And he couldn't care for himself.
And it was just a given that our parents.
But we also saw the toll that that can take. Right.
Because there was a period of time when Robbie was really sick and before she got care that mom was she was working.
She was taking care of us. But in night she would have to bathe her and make sure she got fed. And I remember how tired Mom was before she decided, you know what?
I can't do all of this by myself.
But I think because of Mom's experience with Robbie, she is very determined to be independent.
At some point she's going to be living with one of one of us and, you know, just a matter of who is going to be and I'm the mean one, so it'll probably be us. But that's quite all right.
I mean, in terms of I'm the one that's going to make the call because you won't mom will be like falling in the bathroom and you're like, well, she wants to live on her own.
She will definitely live with one of us. But everybody loves Mom.
So, you know, it's more a fight over who gets to have her.
And the other thing that I kind of take away from our childhood, and I think one of the reasons we get along so well, the fact that I never felt like I was competing with you and I think that mom and dad did a good job of recognizing us as individuals.
And so I've tried to do that with Malia. And Sasha is like, give them a moment, you know, to show me who they are. Right.
Because, you know, like I said earlier, kids come here with a certain temperament. I was always feisty. I was always an internal perfectionist. Sasha's temperament is different from Leia's, right.
That's different from Leslie, your daughter. That's different from Avery. And it's like you've got to give them space and parent the kid you have, not the kid you want. Right.
And Mom and dad were good about that. So I always felt secure in who I was and fine with who you were.
Right. You know, your success was my success. I wasn't competing with you. So I'm trying my best to make sure that Malia and Sasha feel like they're on the same team, even though they're two girls and all that. Their success is each other's success.
That's all you have. That sibling relationship is special.
What dad showed us is that in order to build meaningful relationships with people, that you have to show up for them relationships, whether it's sibling or parent, child or friend, relationships, they don't happen through osmosis.
They happen because they make a decision to be very deliberate about connecting with people.
And the connection can look like a bunch of different things, right? It can be a phone call.
It can be a text. It can be a whole dinner or set of conversations.
What what I saw in our father was that nothing replaces getting on the phone and calling somebody, showing up for somebody.
I know that if I call you and I need you, you will call me back to me right away. Yeah, you may call back and go, you OK? But you show up and I want to show up for you.
So that's what I would tell people. Yeah. It's like we learn that you got to show up for Pete.
That's that's a really good one. That's a really good when you have to show up is absolutely right.
I can always trust who you are.
And I don't know that everybody can say that about their siblings. You know that. I know I know who you are through and through.
I mean, that's that's the wish that I have for all of our kids, is that all of our nieces and nephews like our kids, that they show up in the world. I don't care who who they are, what their titles are.
I don't care how much money they make. I don't care whether they're famous or not.
I want them to show up with empathy, with consistency, with honesty, you know, with decency.
And if we if we can pass on to them those traits that our parents passed on to us, I will tap out and view us as successful old people when the time comes.
Well, I want to thank you, my big brother Craig, for taking time to be on my podcast. This has been an enlightening conversation full of fun and laughter and humor. But this is really enjoyable. Love you. Love you. Well, as you can see, I am so grateful for the relationship that I have with my brother to be able to trust him, to be able to count on him, to know that he's always going to show up.
For me, that's a gift that I cannot replace. And so if you have a sibling in your life, whether that's by blood or by choice, I hope that you'll take some time to dig into that relationship with them, too.
I bet it will be as meaningful for you as it was for us.
Thanks so much for listening, everybody, and I will talk to you again soon. The Michelle Obama podcast is a Spotify original presented and produced by Higher Ground Audio in collaboration with Dusseldorp Productions from Higher Ground Audio, Dan Fierman, Anna Holmes and Mukhtar Mohan are executive producers. Jenny Marrable is our editorial assistant. Adam Sachs is our consulting producer from Dusseldorp Productions. Mischa Youssef is the executive producer. Arwen Nexon. Jonathan Shiflett are the producers additional production support from Mary Knoff.
Jonathan Shiflett is also our engineer. Monika Wilhelm is the archival producer and transcriber. Rachel Garcia is the Dust editorial assistant Daniel Ek, Don Ostroff and Courtney Holt, our executive producers for Spotify Special thanks to Mackenzie Smith, Joe Palsson, Christina Shockey, Melissa Winter, Trina Clayton, Alex Mae, Caroline Adler, Moralez and Marone Halema Scholte. And thanks to clean cut studio search party music, Tyler Leuchtenburg, Dylan, Rupert Carolynn, Lipka Young Creative Agency and Nazarian.
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