One of Pumpkin's dolls enjoys a delicious meal of freshly prepared multi-colored pasta.
I read these two separate paragraphs (see below) within weeks of each other. One is from a novel & one is from an article in Newsweek.
Of course I don't hold it against the Obamas (or any past president) that they have struggles with the fishbowl life of their public office. I suppose they must see it as one of the sacrifices they're willing to make. I'm sure that presidents try to prepare themselves for that change...but really, I'd imagine that you cannot fully grasp the public nature of the job until the change actually happens.
This first paragraph is from American Wife, a novel written by Curtis Sittenfeld which is inspired by (and loosely based on) the life of Laura Bush. In this passage, the main character, Alice Blackwell, is mourning her loss of privacy, yet reminding herself of how she and her family landed in such a public life. She begins by talking about the time when her husband was campaigning for office:
We threw ourselves at people—there are more savory ways to say it, but really, that’s what we did. We searched them out, we left leaflets at the front doors of their houses and under the windshields of their cars, we spoke to them through ads on television, we went to their schools and town halls and farmer’s markets. We begged them to listen, we bombarded them with promises and plans, but all along we were selling ourselves—selling him.
We did everything we could to get as many people as possible to pay attention to us, and it worked, and now we complain. Leave us alone, we say. Just like you, we’re entitled to privacy.
Soon after I read that, I stumbled upon this interesting article in Newsweek. The article is called Where Everybody Knows Your Name (can't you just hear the Cheers theme start to play?), and is written by Holly Bailey:
...It was a rare moment of semi-freedom for a president who has struggled to maintain a sense of normalcy in the White House. Just two days later, at a town-hall meeting in France, Obama talked about the drawbacks of being president: "You know, it's very frustrating now. It used to be when I came to Europe that I could just wander down to a café, and sit and have some wine and watch people go by, and go into a little shop, and watch the sun go down. Now I'm in hotel rooms all the time and I have security around me all the time. And so just, you know, losing that ability to just take a walk, that is something that is frustrating."
Honestly it's sort of sad for me to think about anyone being trapped in such a public "prison." Personally, I plan to avoid that type of fishbowl life as much as I humanly can. (And now you know that I have no plans to run for president.) I felt the same way after I watched Marie Antoinette. I was overwhelmed by the weight of her imprisionment.
Years ago, I read a quote about the luxury of an ordinary life. I can't remember the quote or who said it, but I remember that it really resonated with me. That's my aspiration. :-) (If you happen to know the quote I might be talking about, please send it to me!)
On a somewhat related note, my sister-in-law posted on her blog earlier this week about Jon & Kate + Eight. She said that their fishbowl life has been on her mind lately. Me, too.
Last fall, one of our sweet friends, Beverly (who just graduated and moved away. sadness!), told me all about the show (J&K+8) and loaned me the first two seasons. Over the course of the semester, I watched almost every episode from those seasons. (Made for great treadmill viewing. Fun TV Fluff.) I had all the typical reactions to the show: The children are indeed adorable. The way Kate treats her husband (barking orders at him & rolling her eyes at him) is indeed cringeworthy. It was interesting to see how a family of that size operates.
(Ellie: you might need a Cliffs Notes version of this show. Here's the deal: Young couple gets married. Has twins. Gets pregnant again a few years later and finds out they are having sextuplets. TLC did a "Living With Septuplets" TV special about their family. Great viewer response. People wanted to see more. Reality show started. Season 1 successful. And so on. And so on. They just had their series 5 premiere. Meanwhile, they are estranged from almost all their extended family members. They've gone from average Joes to multi-millionaires. They've made a hefty profit from the show as well as a few books about their kids, I think. The mom has a pretty demanding personality. Some people love her; some hate her. Both the mom & dad have been on the covers of lots of magazines in the grocery store check-out lanes lately...there are reports of infidelity. True or not true? Who knows, but they've gotten lots of publicity in recent weeks and their season premiere had 10 million viewers, beating out everything else on tv that night, including the regular broadcast networks.)
What started as a fairly innocent human interest type of show (How in the world do they take care of 6 toddlers in the same house? etc etc) seems to have evolved into a way of life for this family. Cameras everywhere. Every special event filmed and broadcast to the world.
While the children are certainly laughing and smiling and having a good time right now, it's the future that I worry about. When they are adults and look back on the media sensation of their childhood, they are bound to have some intense emotions. When Mommy & Daddy had that party for us, was it really for us... or really for ratings?....
Several months ago, I did a google search along the lines of "gosselin children exploited" just to see what had been said. Just in the last few weeks, it seems that this issue is really coming to the forefront. Here's a clip from the CBS Early Show about this very controversy.
In the 1930s, there was a very famous set of multiples, the Dionne Quintuplets, who were put on display for the public (via a nursery with public observation areas which was visited by about 6,000 people daily) during their childhood.
There was a very interesting open letter written by several of the (grown up) Dionne sisters back in 1997 to Bobby and Kenny McCaughey (parents of famous septuplets, born in the late 1990s). I think it would be great if Jon & Kate would read this letter:
Advice from the Dionne Qunituplets Time Magazine, 12/01/1997