The Blessings of Being A Mother: I Could Not Help Being Tickled As My 15 Year Old Daughter Critically Examined Some of President Obama’s Policies from the Perspective of a 15 Year Old


President Barack Obama continues to inspire me with everything he’s doing and planning for this country. So when he is scheduled to speak, I am all ears. Tonight, March 24th is no different. I  spent most of my day working on my memoir, editing some poems, editing students’ poems, planning for classes, and finding time to eat. Of course, I surprised my daughter and took her to her favorite grocery store where she purchased food to fix any meal she wants. She is only fifteen, but like me, she loves to cook. Since we’re only three at home these days, I can decide not to cook, fix up some left overs, and let Ade-Juah cook something for herself. She is the only American-meal eating creature in our home. But this very personal story, unlike all my other blog posts is not about Ade cooking herself dinner. The story is about something that is very close to her heart: the Television.

And “Mom, your President, the one President that you adore, Barack Obama, will eliminate American Idol again tonight,” she told me as soon as she arrived from school. “He’s making one of his speeches again tonight, and I cannot understand why he has to make a speech every night, especially, when we have to watch American Idol. This is not fair.” Ade said.

Ade photographing herself through the mirror:

The President Gets Everyone’s Attention When He Speaks—

Ade-Juah is our youngest among the four. She is the baby, the one who all the children claim did not have the luxury of enjoying the hard time of being destitute after our family fled the civil war.

Today, Ade was complaining that the President’s timing of his speech would not allow her to watch American Idol; in fact, American Idol would have to be postponed again because there was this big speech that everyone had to listen to. She could not see why it was more important to give a speech than to watch one of her favorite shows. But Mommy didn’t understand, she said, since Mommy’s favorite show was the news anyway.

I did not pay much attention to her until she began to discuss what she called, “a major problem policy” that the President had passed.

I stopped whatever I was doing at the kitchen sink to listen to my daughter. After all, she’d had a long day at school, got home and had to run over to the grocery store with me, and now that she was fixing up something for herself, it was important to listen to her complaints about “our” President. This was not just another “teenage” roller-coaster talk, so I wanted to hear what it was this lovely child of mine had to say.
I stood in the middle of the kitchen, facing her. She’s almost my height already at fifteen, and she is so proud of that. “Do you know what President Barack Obama says?” Ade said, her brown eyes, wide?

How many times does a fifteen year old girl who was now so sure of her image, that she spends a half of her day at the mirror, comes home with a question about the President’s policy on her mind? How many times does this happen?  She is at that stage in life when girls begin to take care of themselves, when everyone compliments them about their looks. She’sd taken dozens of digital images of herself, twisting and turning  at one of the bathroom mirrors. No one has the ability of photographing her as much as she wants, so she’d already learned how to position my camera to take her the way she wants to look. She’d face the camera at the mirror and from her mirror reflection, take a good shot, whether at home or on vacation. She has her favorite TV shows, her favorite stars, has the best of grades, and of course, a few good friends in our small town. But to listen to the policies of a President, common, this was too interesting to be true.

“He has put an end to dropping out of school, Mom,” my daughter said with disapproval. “Does he know how important it is for some kids to drop out of school, and he says no one is allowed to drop out of school now?” Ade said, frowning.

First, I chuckled, and of course, she didn’t like that. So I had to be serious. This President’s policy about young people she could know was too important to ignore, and of course, all of this unhappy undertone was coming to light for me just when the President was scheduled to speak to the American people. It was bad enough that American Idol was cancelled tonight, but all the policies of preventing dropout was now annoying to her.
“Did you by any chance have future plans to drop out of school?” I asked, and of course, she laughed.
“Why would I want to do that?” Ade again frowned.

It was one of those “duh” moments, so I quickly put on my educated face so she wouldn’t think I was stupid.

“I was just asking since you’re so annoyed the President has declared support to keep kids in school. Do you think that’s a bad policy? Is it wrong to say to kids, ‘you can’t just drop out and become useless’ to society?” I added.
“Well, Mom, in case you didn’t know,” Ade said in argument. “There are kids who HAVE to drop out of school. They have to. They can’t help it, so there must be a provision in the President’s policy that allows kids to drop out when they need to.”
“Really?” I wanted to laugh out loud, but you cannot laugh when a teenager is serious about something like that. You can get into a big fight just by making fun of a situation that should be serious according to them. I had come a long way with three other past teenagers not to be an expert, so I just listened.

“There are kids out there who have to drop out to work to support their parents. Some have to because they’re pregnant, and cannot continue. They need a break. The President cannot prevent kids from dropping out. And by the way, he can’t just take up our TV time all the time. Someone has to tell him. American Idol is important too.”

When one can have a conversation like that at the end of the day, this is a blessing. But to know that Barack Obama has reached my teenage daughter, the only one of my children any President has ever reached at that age the many years I have lived in this country, is wonderful.

I praised her for being opinionated, for being able to argue her points well the way she felt, but mostly, because she was listening even if it meant listening when she’d rather watch American Idol. Yes, American Idol is important just as it is important for kids to drop out. But the most important of all is that the President of the United States has got the ears of his people who are listening.


7 Replies to “The Blessings of Being A Mother: I Could Not Help Being Tickled As My 15 Year Old Daughter Critically Examined Some of President Obama’s Policies from the Perspective of a 15 Year Old”

  1. Dear Patricia and Ade!
    My name is Laurenz. I’m a student of ‘Zürich University’ (Switzerland). I finally dropped into your Blog while I was surching for some informations about the appeal, President Obama leaves to african people. At the moment I take part in a module called “Old and new shapes of social achievement in Africa” at my University. My teacher gave me the task, to find out something about Barack Obama (according to the title of the module in connection with Africa). I’m aware, that Obama wasn’t born in Africa and that he rarely visited this country. I also know, that his father and grandmother are from africa (while his mother is from the States). One specific thing, my teacher is interessted in is, to find out why african people feel such a strong connection, pride and solidarity for the new President of America. Altought Obama never really had to do much with Africa, the redundancy of his speeches, of whatever he stands for and supports seem to move the african society very much.

    I read your latest blog story with much interest and enjoy! I especially like the last sentence: “But the most important of all is that the President of the United States has got the ears of his people who are listening”. (Very moving)

    I hope I don’t sound impolite, but I’d appreciate it very much, if you, your daughter or some relatives, could tell me, what makes the appeal, charisma, generally personality of Barack Obama that african people feel that sense of belonging to “their” president. (feelings, prospects, hopes, relatedness to this Person).
    I’m really looking forward to hear from you – and maybe, you could give me a hint for my exercise.

    Best greetings from Switzerland…

  2. Hi Laurenz,

    Thanks for your invaluable investigation. I am working on your answers. I will get back to you soon. If you send me a note through my e-mail at I will respond privately with some answers for your research. I am proud of your investigation, which is pertinent to everything that we are as African people. But if you prefer, I can do a responding blog by the weekend.
    Have a great day,
    Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

  3. Dear Patricia!

    First I want to thank you very much for your quick reply and efforts!
    I’m so pleased, you offer me your help – I really appreciate it!
    It would be definately more interesting for me, to hear your personal story, aspects or point of view of this phenomemon than from any article by the media. I believe that your experience of life, your thoughts (as well those of your daugther)about the presidency of Barack Obama, his appeal and his charisma effecting african people, are probably the most reliable source I could ever find.

    I look forward to hear from you again! Have a great week too…

    Best greetings,
    Laurenz Hasler

    (Unfortunately I counld’t send you this text to your e-mail-address….there was a failure notice – sorry for that)

  4. Oh by the way, my research for “old and new shapes of social achievement in Africa” using the example of Barack Obama, is also linked with the idea of migration (achievement abroad through migration) – if this helps you. I totally forgot to mention it.

    Greetings from Switzerland!!

    1. Great,

      I will put something together for you by the weekend then. Also, if you look through the blog here, I have clips of my blogging on Barack during and after the entire elections process. I will e-mail the rest of my discussion for more privacy.


  5. I’m so glad that I did not miss this story although I’m almost a month late getting here! Thank God that the Internet makes sure that things stay up forever. 🙂

    Ade’s humorous story is making a huge point. In my household, we too had numerous discussions led by our teenagers during the election about politics…something which was unheard of before.

    A President who has been able to reach the youth and make them want to listen and respond has achieved a big, big thing.

  6. Thanks a lot, Lola. I’m glad you found it. As you can see, I’ve been so busy traveling and teaching, I have yet to post a new blog. Interestingly, this blog post evoked many conversations and collaborations with folks around the world, much of which were kept away from the blog. Have a blessed weekend.

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