The rules in the Obama household for Malia and Sasha are clear-cut:
- "No whining, arguing or annoying teasing," their mother, Michelle Obama, told People Magazine.
- Make the bed. "Doesn't have to look good, just throw the sheet over it," said the mother of 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha.
- Set your own alarm clock. "They get themselves up, get their own clothes," said their grandmother Marian Robinson.
- And the allowance from Dad for doing chores is $1 a week. Barack Obama conceded that "I'm out of town for weeks at a time, so Malia will say, 'Hey you owe me for 10 weeks.'"
The likely Democratic presidential nominee and his wife are determined that his bid not disrupt the normal, happy childhood of their daughters, who would be two of the youngest residents of the White House in 30 years if Obama wins. Amy Carter was 9 when she moved in the White House in 1977.
"Wonderful life in Chicago"
Malia and Sasha visited the White House in 2005 and were bored until President Bush's dog Barney showed up and they romped with him on the South Lawn, Michelle Obama said.
While the candidate is on the road, the Obama girls keep a hectic schedule: soccer, dance and drama for Malia, gymnastics and tap for Sasha, piano and tennis for both. Michelle Obama tries to fit in three 90-minute workouts each week and hits the campaign trail two or three days a week — a role that has brought criticism from political opponents.
"When some folks were attacking Michelle, Malia just asked, 'What was that all about?' and we talked it through," Barack Obama said, adding that it was fortunate that "she's completely confident about her mommy's wonderfulness."
"They have a wonderful life in Chicago," Barack Obama said. "So I'm sure there's a part of them that won't be heartbroken if things don't work out."
The Obamas rarely allow their daughters to be interviewed. After the television show "Access Hollywood" aired a report on the Obama children earlier this month, their father expressed regret for having agreed to it. "I don't think it's healthy and it's something that we'll be avoiding in the future," he later said.
The cover story appears in People Magazine's latest issue, on newsstands Friday.