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The White House

Remarks by the First Lady at a Ferebee-Hope Elementary School event

Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release                              May 13, 2009
Ferebee-Hope Elementary School
Washington, D.C.
3:16 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, Allison, very much. So, you guys have been doing what you're supposed to be doing. That's what I'm hearing?
Q Yes.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes? Well, why don't we start -- can you guys tell me your names and ages? Let's start. We'll go around.
(The children introduce themselves.)
Well, it's good to see you, guys. We're proud of you all, you know that?
MRS. OBAMA: So what do you like about reading?
Q You get to learn.
MRS. OBAMA: You get to learn. Yes?
Q You get to learn new words.
MRS. OBAMA: New words, that sounds good. What about you?
Q You get to read all about new stories.
MRS. OBAMA: New stories. What about you?
Q You get to learn about how things in the lesson -- (inaudible).
MRS. OBAMA: So who likes to read? So are you guys doing reading at home, do you -- when you go home? Do you have books that you're reading at home?
MRS. OBAMA: Tell me about some of your favorite books that you're reading. What about you?
Q The last thing I've read -- (inaudible) -- Dr. Seuss.
MRS. OBAMA: I love Dr. Seuss, love that book. What do you like about it?
Q Because -- (inaudible).
MRS. OBAMA: Yep. What about you?
Q The Jonas Brothers.
MRS. OBAMA: The Jonas Brothers! Oh, they have a book? (Laughter.) My girls love the Jonas Brothers, but I don't think that they know that there's a book out about them, and I'm not going to tell them. What about you?
Q Harry Potter.
MRS. OBAMA: Harry Potter! Oh, my big girl loves Harry Potter, loves Harry Potter. I got to meet the woman who wrote Harry Potter when I went to visit the Queen in England. I sat next to her. (Laughter.) And people were more excited about her than they were about the Queen, because everybody loves Harry Potter
Well, first -- well, we'll stop because I'm going to read, and then we can -- if you guys want to ask some questions.
This is a book that I was given. I hadn't read this book by Ray Cruz. It's called "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." Yes, I mean, this kid has a pretty bad day.
So how many of you guys have had a pretty bad day? So what was it like? What happened on your day? Just shout out some stuff when it was a bad day. What do you remember happening?
Q Fighting.
Q Fighting.
MRS. OBAMA: Uh oh, uh oh. What else?
Q Arguments.
MRS. OBAMA: Arguments. What else? Some arguments. Just tell me some things that happened on a bad day.
Q Disagreeing.
MRS. OBAMA: Disagreeing. Did anything -- have somebody mess up their favorite shirt or something?
Q They spilled stuff all over it.
MRS. OBAMA: Spilling stuff. Was anybody ever late for school on a very bad day? Nothing like being -- what about you? You've got that hand up.
Q I fell in mud on my birthday.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, mud on your birthday? Now, that's a very bad day.
Well, this is a book about a boy who has one of those bad days. I read it last night just to see what it was about, and I could relate. So -- oh, it's illustrated by Ray Cruz, and so he's written -- he drew the pictures. These are some pretty good pictures, so I'll try to show you.
(Mrs. Obama reads "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.")
So did the book get any better?
MRS. OBAMA: So what do you make of it? What's the -- what do you take away from this story when you have a really bad, horrible, terrible day? What do --
Q -- remember the good times.
MRS. OBAMA: You remember the good times. There you go. That's wise --
Q (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: That nothing good happened? Does nothing good happen all the time, though?
MRS. OBAMA: No, because sometimes when you have a bad day, what happens the next day?
Q Something good happens.
MRS. OBAMA: Something good happens, yes. What do you have to say?
Q Sometimes when we have a bad day, people just try to tease you. People would tease you.
MRS. OBAMA: Sometimes, yes. What else?
Q He wanted to get those shoes --
MRS. OBAMA: They didn't even have the shoes he wanted. And there's nothing like going to get new shoes and then you don't get what you want, because then you have to wear the shoes for the rest of the year, right? Then you're wearing the shoes you don't want, right?
Q In the stores, like, everything that he wants, they don't have.
MRS. OBAMA: That's right.
Q Or something go wrong --
MRS. OBAMA: That's right. It's frustrating, right? What do you have to say?
Q That he was -- that he had gum in his mouth and gum in his hair.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, that must have been -- (laughter) -- yes, that must have been bad.
Q (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, and then what happened? He fell in the mud because his brother pushed him. But who got in trouble?
Q (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: So what do you think this book is trying to teach us? Are they just telling us that this is just a bad day? What do you think? What do you guys think you learned from this book?
Q I think I learned that -- never chew gum in my mouth while I'm sleeping.
MRS. OBAMA: That's a good one. Never chew gum in my mouth while you're sleeping. That's a lesson to learn. Does everybody have that? Spit the gum out before you go to bed.
What about you?
Q They had to -- (inaudible).
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, man, did they have to cut it out of your hair? That's another thing for you to remember. And sometimes you've got to cut it out.
So tell me, what's the thing you learned from this book? You, right there.
Q I learned that you don't -- (inaudible) -- when you are -- when you get frustrated.
MRS. OBAMA: That's a good point. Let's think about that. Why, why should you not get mad when you get frustrated? What do you think? Hmm, let's see. Anybody think why -- why not get mad? What do you think?
Q Because if you get mad, something else bad will happen.
MRS. OBAMA: That's a good point. I was telling my daughter that the other day, because she was trying to ride her bike, and she was trying to get up the hill, and she was mad because she couldn't get up the hill. But the madder she got the harder it was for her to get up the hill, because she was spending all of her energy being mad and not focusing on getting up the hill. So when she stopped getting mad and focused her energy on what she was trying to do, she was able to do it.
So sometimes if you spend all your time being frustrated about your bad day, sometimes it just makes it worse, right? What do you think?
Q I learned nobody's life is perfect.
MRS. OBAMA: Nobody's life is perfect. That's a good point. That's a -- what do you all think about that? Do you ever look at somebody and think, oh, well, they must have everything?
Q No.
MRS. OBAMA: No. That's right. Yes, what do you think?
Q I learned that every day is not a good day.
Q I learned every day is not a good day.
MRS. OBAMA: Every day isn't a good day, right. Nobody's life is perfect and nobody is going to have a great day every day. Everybody has a bad day -- even me. Even the President of the United States has a couple of bad days. What about you? What do you think?
Q When we have a bad day, you should never try to make it worse because you could think of the happy times and you could think of doing something that makes the day --
MRS. OBAMA: That's a good idea, that's a good idea. What other ways -- what can you do to get out a bad day, if you're having a bad day?
Q You could try to -- (inaudible).
MRS. OBAMA: What do you think?
Q Just calm down.
MRS. OBAMA: Just calm down. You know what your parents say, "Just calm down!" I say that a lot: "Hey, hey, calm down! Just settle yourself down!" Anybody over there? Yes, sweetie.
Q Just stop being mad and look at what you're doing, and try to do it, and stop being mad.
MRS. OBAMA: That's right.
Well, we probably need to stop now, but you guys have some good -- first of all, you've paid attention, you focused really well on the story, and you took a lot away from it, right? Because sometimes books are just what they are, but then there's a lot of cool messages underneath the books. And you guys, you seem to be getting that.
Do you guys have any questions for me before I go? What about you, sweetie?
Q Do you give people autographs?
MRS. OBAMA: Do I give people autographs? I do sometimes. What, you want an autograph? You do? Maybe I'll sign something. If we have something, I'll sign it before I leave for all of you all. What about you?
Q How does it feel being the First Lady?
MRS. OBAMA: You know, it probably feels like being a mom, except a lot of people are watching what you do. I spend a lot of time thinking about my girls and how to make their life better, and how to make your lives better, because when I come here and I see you guys, I think of my girls. I read to them just like I'm reading to you. I want them to be good readers like I want you all to be good readers, and to love learning and to love books, because it just makes life easier for you. And it's more fun when you learn how to read. So I like my job because I get to come and see you all and talk to you all. And that's the best part of my day.
What about you?
Q Is it hard being the First Lady?
MRS. OBAMA: Is it hard? No, it's not hard. This isn't hard. This is fun, don't you think?
Q Yes.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes. No, it's a lot of fun. I enjoy it. I enjoy it because of you guys.
What about you?
Q When you first spoke on TV, were you shy?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, anytime you talk on TV, I think being nervous is normal. Don't you guys get nervous when you have to talk in front of people?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, yes. I think everybody gets a little nervous. Our kids asked us that, because when they have to do presentations, they talk about being nervous. It's normal to be nervous, because then if you're nervous, what?
Q It will come out right.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, you'll prepare. If you think, oh, I've got this, I'm just going to stand up and talk, and I can get it right -- and sometimes, that's when you mess up.
But if you're a little nervous, you work harder to get it right. So I just take that nervousness and try to make sure that I'm ready. That's why going to school is so important, because school -- third grade, learning how to read -- gets you ready for a whole bunch of things that you're going to have to do in life.
All right, one more question. We'll get this gentleman right here.
Q Is it hard to be the President?
MRS. OBAMA: It's very hard to be the President, yes. Being the President is one of the hardest jobs in the world, I think, because you're dealing with every kind of problem you can imagine. Almost anything that goes on in the world, at some point the President has to think about it and help fix it.
So you imagine walking up every day, thinking about the biggest problems that are facing this country and the world, and people are looking at you for the answers, right -- it's a tough job.
But that's why he needs all of your help, right? And you might think, well, I'm in third grade, how can I help the President? How do you think you can help the President make his job easier? What do you think?
Q By doing what we're supposed to do.
MRS. OBAMA: By doing what you're supposed to do. I love that. And what is that you're supposed to be doing?
Q By working hard.
MRS. OBAMA: Working hard, right? What else?
Q Listening to the teacher.
MRS. OBAMA: Listening to the teacher. Oh, you guys are really -- what else?
Q And learning and stop being bad.
MRS. OBAMA: Learning and stop being bad. Yes. But I'm assuming nobody is bad. Then they don't have to stop being bad, because they're not bad in the first place, right?
What else can you do to help the President?
Q Never quit.
MRS. OBAMA: Never quit. That's such a good -- that's -- let's stop there with that "Never quit." Okay, you guys remember that. Will you promise me that?
Q Yes.
MRS. OBAMA: When something gets hard, because it will be -- there will be plenty of things that will be hard for you all; there are things that are hard for me -- will you promise me that you will not quit?
MRS. OBAMA: When you have a terrible, horrible, very bad day, that you won't quit; that you'll know that that's just one bad day. Right?
Q Yes.
MRS. OBAMA: Okay, because if you do that, you will help the President so much. If you do that every day -- from now as eight, nine, 10-year-olds until you are grown-ups -- you will help the President. You'll make his job a lot easier. And we'll be so proud of you, just like we are right now, okay?
All right, guys, I'm going to go. You guys want to take a picture?
MRS. OBAMA: All right, let's say it for the picture! Yes!
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, for the picture! Thank you, guys.
3:33 P.M. EDT