Hailey Gilman, gilmanhe@muohio.edu

Political analysts stand by the fact that they knew your plans for the next four years before your family did. People around the country spoke about your parents’ values as if they had weekly dinners in your dining room. Just days ago, thousands of Americans tuned in or stood in a Chicago crowd to celebrate the victory of a man you only know as “dad.”

Only four years ago, you entered into our line of sight, the adolescent daughters of an Illinois senator. As your father began his campaign, I’m sure that you were exposed to some truly despicable and distasteful commentary about his choices, beliefs and background. It must have been difficult to hear the hateful words of others, while you never needed a résumé to prove your father’s intelligence or worth. Yet there you appeared, beside our new president, Sasha flashing a wide grin, and Malia standing tall in you dress, the two of you color-coordinated with your parents. It wasn’t until your dad mentioned his promise of a White House dog that we were reminded you were only children, entering a world beneath a global-sized microscope.

We’ve now witnessed you entering a new school, flying off on family vacations, pardoning turkeys beside your parents and racing across the White House lawn with Bo the Portuguese water dog at your side, and the secret service only steps behind. Your social lives have become a fascination of the general public, your bodies modeled into dolls for young girls and your names recognized around the world.

However, we haven’t seen too much of you. Your parents have made it very clear that your lives are to be private and the mass media press has tried to let you live without constant surveillance. If anything, Americans have been given the impression that you live entirely normal lives. We’ve heard your mother discuss your family dinners each night. We’ve seen your father on the sidelines, coaching Sasha’s basketball team. We’ve watched as your grandmother left Chicago behind to live in the White House, meeting up with you in the afternoons after school. The two of you manage to command a family-oriented, down-to-earth impression.

But despite the interest surrounding your upbringing, many forget that your lives are truly intertwined with the future of the 44th President of the United States. Because of your father’s re-election, you’ll be spending an additional four years – your formative years – in our eyes. By the end of your dad’s term, Malia will be eighteen years old, and Sasha fifteen. Your lives will feel as though they exist in a zoo, behind glass, the world looking in and speculating.

However, we only wish to share in your defining moments. Much of Malia’s teenage checkpoints will occur in the White House, so potentially we may be witnesses to her learning to drive, attending prom and voting for the first time. The future is exciting and it brings heartening events for the Obama daughters.

Political beliefs aside, you have both captured the hearts of many. We admire your spirit and spunk. You have a youthful energy that we hope will persevere despite the serious issues your family may face. It certainly won’t be easy. People will have opinions on the outfits you wear, the college Malia chooses to attend and the person that Sasha decides to be. But despite these opinions, so many of us stand by you. We admire your tenacity and will support you both through times of struggle and episodes of great joy.

Chelsea Clinton entered the White House when she was just a mere twelve years old. She continued her life labeled as “the president’s daughter,” entering Stanford University with several secret service agents by her side. Like hers, your lives have changed permanently. Sasha and Malia, America is beside you, as you take your next important steps. Your lives will never be the same, but they will certainly be no less than great.