TO THE NEXT FIRST “KIDS”
As chaotic as this presidential race is, and despite the fact that it resembles a reality show, the truth is this: In 2016, someone is going to be elected the next President of the United States. And whoever it is will have a family, including offspring. For obvious reasons, my thoughts go to them – the sons and daughters whose lives will change forever. Here are a few tips from someone who has been there:
1. Accept the fact that, no matter how old you are, you will be called the President’s “kid.” This will never go away. Long after your parent is out of the Oval Office, even if you are on Social Security and have gray hair, you will still be the president’s “kid.” Bill O’Reilly, in promoting his new book Killing Reagan, said in an interview that he didn’t talk to Reagan’s kids because he wasn’t interested in what we had to say. It’s always tempting to get annoyed at this, but it’s futile. As I said before, it will never go away. File it under the heading of “Live with it.”
2. Turn down every offer you get for any role, appearance, or opportunity that puts you at the front of the brightly lit stage you are now on. Go away and think about these offers; talk to some wise and worldly person about the pros and cons. Hint: there are usually more cons than pros. Go on a retreat, get an audience with the Dalai Lama, meditate. But don’t say yes to anything until God whispers in your ear that it’s okay to do so. That’s a tall order, so you’ll be waiting a while.
3. Say no when the Secret Service asks you to relinquish your car and drive with them at all times. Whether you’re married or single, going on dates in the back of the Secret Service town car will ruin any relationship. And when you do drive your own car, don’t try and lose the agents who are following you. It’s tempting, but try to resist this. It will only make them angry, and they probably don’t want to be on your detail in the first place.
4. Try to find some humor in the fact that everyone you have ever known, including people who once dissed you and rejected you, will suddenly be calling you their friend and…well, calling. And e-mailing, texting, trying to friend you on Facebook. There will be newbies too who don’t give a damn about you as a person but think it’s really cool that your parent is in the White House. Don’t analyze this, it will only depress you. Find some black humor in it; it’s probably the only kind of humor you can find, since it’s not really that funny.
5. Stay off Twitter. I probably don’t need to explain or embellish this. Just cancel your Twitter account. Unless you have deep-seated masochistic tendencies, in which case I don’t know what to say to you.
I hope this helps whoever is next in line for the First Kid role. It’s possible to meet some really interesting people during these years, and travel to places you might never have gone to otherwise. It’s also possible to learn some profound life lessons. But you need some ground rules, so I’ve tried to provide a few. I have more, but this should get you started.