You know where the term “mom blogger” isn’t met with derision?
The White House.
But we will get to that.
Even though I didn’t wear the red shoes to the White House, it was indeed a bit like I got dropped into Oz. Not the creepy apple throwing trees part, but the can you even dye my eyes to match my dress (yes!) part.
We were greeted by a lovely White House staffer who said “Stephanie? I recognize you from your blog!” Squee! And also….duuuuuuude. Every one we met there was kind, pleasant and treated us with the utmost respect. The whole check in process was very smooth. They checked our ID’s and issued our badges while we were all “yeah, we’re at the White House for the State of the Union. No biggie” But inside we were all mentally doing the Roger Rabbit and imagining our own walk and talk ala The West Wing. (They call me the jackal)
We met with White House social media man extraordinaire Macon Phillips and then settled in for the SOTU. First bummer of the night, President Obama did not begin with a song. I was hoping for a little I’m a Survivor by Christina Aguilerra. “I’m a survivor, I’m not gonna give up, I’m gonna work harder” Personally I think even Simon Cowell would give him a golden ticket. Okay, enough with the kidding. The State of the Union is serious business and the air inside the room was electric and we all hung on every word. A room full of democrats, republicans and independents all watching together.
(Emily Davis, Zach and I tweeting furiously during the SOTU- photo by Neil Davis)
If you ever have the chance to do this…SEIZE it! It was so awesome. Sometimes the room erupted in cheers, in a groan (spilled milk; I’m looking at you) and laughter or applause. The energy was infectious and it all culminated in the Q&A with staff after it was over. I loved being able to watch with all of you while I was there. It was amazing to be able to chat with you guy and hear your thoughts and your questions as it was happening. Man, you guys had some AMAZING questions. From marriage equality to health insurance to teaching to the test. Mind puzzlers from both sides of the aisle.I wish I had gotten to ask every question you posed. I want answers as well.
I thought President Obama rocked the house (hehe) during the SOTU. This speech was beautifully crafted and air tight on most issues. He was so confident. I feel like the first 18 months of his administration he was busy being polite and behind the scenes kicking butt and taking names (bye Bin Laden, don’t let the door and all that) but most of the American people didn’t know what he was doing because it wasn’t out there. He didn’t have the PR force that a Republican administration did. President Bush signed a birthday card and it was out there for him to be congratulated on. President Obama was getting stuff done but not making sure we all knew. He seems to have decided that is not the way to go anymore. Forget being a gentleman and just assuming that getting things done is enough. I thought he was extremely presidential, strong, elegant, charismatic and of course an inspirational speaker. But this SOTU was a call to arms. And an old school, genteel one at that. There was no mistaking his message. Let’s stop all this BS and get some work done. He also laid some serious truth fact bombs. BOOM. Twitter registered over 14,000 tweets per minute during the SOTU and the number one thing people were tweeting about was education.
And this is where the highlight of the night was for me. We talked a lot about higher education. But I have a 7 month old and a 3 year old. I am worried about elementary education. I read your blogs and see how your kids have no recess, no music or art- all of which stimulates the brain and helps with learning. I see how your second graders are struggling with two hours of homework. Algebra for pete’s sake and yet they aren’t being taught geography or freeze tag! Remember freeze tag? Good times.
Halfway through the Q&A Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came in to chat with us and answer our education questions. He started off by saying how he still was in awe that he got to be on Capitol Hill and work at the White House, fighting for our children. This put all of us at ease because we may have looked as cool as the Fonze but we were freaking like Ralph Mouth.(that’s a Happy Days reference in case you grew up when Nick at Night had already moved on to Full House) I didn’t get to ask a question during the organized session but after it was over Zach and I went down to meet him. I am so glad we did. He and Zach talked for a while and then he turned his attention to me and I introduced myself adding “I’m the mom blogger” I don’t know why I said it, but I am so glad I did. His eyes lit up and he said “I want to talk to you” I laid out my question. Why are our young children being forced to work longer hours learning harder subjects earlier without valuing play or even being allowed to burn off energy that will let them sit and concentrate on *gulp* algebra at age seven! This clearly isn’t working as the Secretary himself had stated that we are having kids burn out and drop out at a higher rate, so what is the plan?
He said he knew as a kid he needed to run around and that this was something they were very concerned with. I wish I had a final answer to give you, but he told me he was going to track me down to talk more. He said mothers, and social media mothers are such a valuable resource and he wants to hear from me. From US.
From there we walked over to thank Macon Phillips for having us, upon hearing I was a “Mom blogger” he too, lit up. Brands may not take us seriously. The press at large may not. But the White House sure does. We are covering new ground for them. This is new, and people we are blowing their minds. Here’s the thing. One of us right now at this very minute may be potty training a future president. (between my two I’ve got my money on Boss because he is you know, the Boss and he lays out a plan step by step of how things need to be) Of all the things I learned last night, and I learned a lot, the most important one is that we are not going unnoticed, the term mom blogger to them means something wonderful. Something POWERFUL. We are literate. We are involved. We are opinionated. And they are listening.
The White House talk back is going on all this week. You can pose questions on their Facebook page or tweet them using #WHChat #SOTU (and @minkymoo because I want to hear your questions too!) (also I am seriously thinking it’s time to change the old name. I mean, if the White House is listening…maybe I need a more respectable name.)
What did you think about the speech? Love it? Hate it? What was your favorite part? I loved when he quoted President Lincoln “Government should do for people only what they cannot do for themselves and no more”
Is it totally uncool to say my experience was totally amazeballs? Because it was. Yup. Amazeballs is the best word. And that right there is why we need to work on education. Ha! Amazeballs.
Sigh. They’re not going to invite me back are they?
You can watch the SOTU and ask questions here as well. Do you think Boehner’s teeth glow in the dark like Ross on Friends? I do.