I like our new president. He is intelligent, capable, qualified, and can pronounce the word "nuclear" correctly. He is a family man. He likes dogs. He looks like he wakes up in a suit and yet doesn't seem standoffish; quite the contrary he seems approachable. He is a great role model, so far, for a lot of people, but in particular the African American male.
However, a conversation I had with a coworker the other day brought home the realization that he makes it all look kind of easy. Almost TOO easy. She is African American, a single mom with two children. Her oldest daughter is out of college now, and her son is in college. Both went to good private high schools here in the Boston area, which was not an easy feat for her. They did get scholarships, but I am sure it all came at a sacrifice. She herself did not go to college. But her children have or are going and not to just any colleges - her daughter went to Trinity in Connecticut and her son is at Columbia. He is no slouch in the brains department; he managed to get a full ride at Columbia. He was admitted to a few other good colleges like George Washington Univ., with varying degrees of scholarship offers. But while just getting admitted to these colleges is a triumph in itself, staying in college and being successful is a whole different ball game.
He has just finished his second year, and while he made the dean's list the first year, this year he is struggling. He has changed his major a few times. He isn't fitting in socially, so he says, although I recall there was a girl friend at Christmas. In talking to his mother, I asked what he thought he wanted to do after college. She laughed and said he is now saying he thinks he would like to be a lawyer. Because Barak Obama did it and look where it got him. His words, not hers.
I laughed out loud. On the one hand I am so happy that he sees our president as a positive role model, as someone to emulate. That has not always been true of our presidents. On the other hand, he has NO CLUE how hard it is to become a lawyer, then be a good lawyer. Or how hard it is to be president. Obama is an acknowledged expert in Constitutional law. That means he spent, and probably spends, a lot of time READING. Legal stuff. Stuff 90% of the rest of us would pass out while reading either from boredom or frustration trying to interpret.
But he does pass through this life with a certain groove, a smoothness, and I think it might do him an injustice. He needs to make it look as hard as it is to be him. To be president, to be in charge of all of us and our needs. I want people to believe that they can accomplish great things, that even becoming president is possible. But I think they need to understand how much WORK goes in to it; into all that President Obama has achieved in his life. He needs to admit that he stayed up all night for nights on end studying for the bar exam, and it sucked. And that being president is HARD. Just dealing with Congress is a pain in the butt. But as with anything, to do it well, you have to suck it up and deal with it all. Deal with people disagreeing with you, even flat out hating you because of your party, your color, your belief system, whatever, and do the job. You can't just walk away because you don't like the pants that everyone else is wearing. To do well in college and in life means studying and taking classes you don't like and dealing with professors who are irritating and some who are horrible teachers but the ones who are good make up for that. It means doing team projects with at least one person who will never show up or do their part but they get the same grade as you. You have to WORK HARD.
So please Mr. President, every so often, could you do us all a favor and just every so often, lose your smooth? Yell "Because I am the President and I said so, that's why" at the top of your lungs some day at a senior Republican Congressman and then send him back to his office for a time out. Just give us a little hint that somedays are just as frustrating for you as they are for the every day working Joe. Be a well rounded, realistic role model. The moms of all the wannabe lawyers and presidents out there will thank you.