On Wednesday, I had an amazing experience attending the annual White House Tee Ball Initiative on the South Lawn. President Bush, a lifelong baseball fan, started the event in 2001 to allow kids a chance to come to the White House — and to raise awareness about physical activity and the importance of youth sports. This year, it was girls' day, with young softball players swinging for the fences!
Before the game, I interviewed the President as we strolled on the White House lawn. As you watch the interview, you'll see a different side of the commander in chief. He's very relaxed and really lights up when he talks about his daughters, his commitment to fitness, and how he feels about turning 61 next week.
President Bush, the father of now-adult twins Jenna and Barbara, clearly loves kids. He made each and every tee ball player feel really special, and seemed to be having a genuinely good time even though it was brutally hot outside! I got the feeling that the event was a great way for him to relax and take a breather from the heavy responsibilities of his office.
After the game, my three daughters and I were the last in line for an official photo with the President. When we were done, he surprised us by asking us to take a walk with him. He led us up the path to the Rose Garden, all the while telling my kids stories, including anecdotes about the first pets.
(White House Press)
Mr. Bush asked my daughters questions and answered a stream of their inquiries. My kindergartner just had to know how many floors there are in the White House; the President estimated seven. She still can't get over that! After our stroll through the Rose Garden, President Bush casually turned to the girls and said, "Have y'all ever been in the Oval Office?" Of course, the answer was no!
I couldn't believe it when he took the four of us in there and showed us around. He went through each of the photos behind his desk, explaining them to the girls — including one of him as a little kid in the arms of his dad, the former President Bush. The President's grandfather, Prescott Sheldon Bush, was in the photo as well. So they loved hearing about the three generations. He told them stories about when he was a boy and talked to them about reading and school. By the way, the President told me he's a voracious reader, and that he does most of his reading while working out on the elliptical trainer! (He's reading a book about China right now.)
My third-grader asked a question that had been on her mind all day: "Is being President fun?" His answer was, "Sometimes... but it's also hard."
Yesterday was definitely one of those fun times for all of us... and an unforgettable experience.