Some SOTU notes for your edification


Many of you watched or heard the President’s State of the Union speech last night.  So did my daughter, much to her great thrill (“We’re staying up late! To watch the news!” she said, with a frisson of excitement).  Throughout the speech, though, she was left with a great number of quesitons.  Some were easy to answer, some were stumpers. Judge for yourself:

  • •   Does he know that he’s on TV?
  • •   Why are there mostly men in there?
  • •   Why do all the men have ties on?  They all have dark suits, white shirts, and ties. And the women are wearing a ton of different clothing.
  • •   Do you have a black suit like that, Baba?
  • •   Why is he talking about China?
  • •   Why is it such a fancy theater?
  • •   Is that woman in purple his wife?
  • •   Does he know that his own wife is watching him?
  • •   Why are the people clapping for themselves?

She decided to try to take notes on the whole thing, but this proved more challenging than expected.

“I can’t write as fast as he talks,” she said, still utterly cheery. (We were staying up late! To watch the news!)  Still, she made a valliant effort.


“I just heard him say the word ‘So’!” Down it went on her notepad.  I saw a whole sentence I could have sworn I heard President Obama just said. But after a while, she scaled back her goals.

“I’m just gonna write what I catch up with.” Here’s hoping that technique retains its usefulness when she wakes up in another dozen years to find herself slumped and drooling on her notebook while a lit professor prattles on about Finnegan’s Wake.

She did catch up a bit, but only with fitful success. Before long, she had given up notetaking, and was filling in pages in a “Name Dictionary,” which featured the first names of nearly every kid in her Kindergarten class, plus sundry family members.  It ended with a couple more non-Kindergaren names we knew, and some fictional names just for good measure.


Was it an effective speech, in her view? Hard to say. But I look upon the juxtaposition of “Obma” and “Santa Clos” quite favorably.

8 thoughts on “Some SOTU notes for your edification”

  1. I feel like your daughter’s questions are going to lead to a fantastic blog one day.

    And on a side note, I’ve been lurking for a while. This is my first comment, but I love reading your stories. As someone who works with kids, I very much appreciate the humor and wisdom they bring to all sorts of situations.

    • Welcome! And thanks for checking in. I totally agree: until I lived with ’em, I don’t think I ever really appreciated the wit and insight they’re filled with. I was very much not a “kid person,” felt in some ways confused by them. Worried I’d not be able to figure them out if ever I was a parent. Lamented that they’d not get irony, or whatever. Boy was I wrong.

  2. Oh, what political children we are raising. As it happens, our six-year-old son wrote a letter to the president this week. We talk about it in our latest vlog, but the short story is that he thinks the rich should pay more and the poor should pay less, and he wrote it all out painstakingly for us to mail to the White House. I’m not sure at this point what he thinks about the public option….

    It’s funny your daughter is into notebooks, too. My son is as well, and scribbles everything from stories to diary entries to “science” notes. Must be the age. (Either that or having writers as parents.)

  3. ҉ۢ Why do all the men have ties on? They all have dark suits, white shirts, and ties. And the women are wearing a ton of different clothing.
    • Why are the people clapping for themselves?”

    I had the exact same thoughts! I wonder if it’s because I have maintained my ability to see the world through the eyes of a child, or that your daughter has amazingly mature powers of observation? Hmmm…

  4. My wife says that if our future child has a similar level of excitement about staying up to watch the news, she’ll know she’s been a success.

  5. “We’re staying up late! To watch the news!” I would like that on a t-shirt.

    Those questions are wonderful. The wisdom and life and eagerness in your daughter gives me so much hope for the future! I always find myself wondering why the women why women dont just wear black suits and ties like the men. I would, if I were a politician.

    And Rae, welcome, you made me jump out of my skin! My name is Rae, and I’ve never met another. For a moment I though I left a comment and forgot!

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