The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

President Obama and children spend some time touching each other’s hair

I don't remember being six years old. I am very confident that I was a little brat, given how I am now (Editor's note: Confirmed) and I'm pretty confident that I knew the name of the president. (It was Ronald Reagan, which narrows my age into an acceptable zone of vagueness.) But I clearly didn't really get what a president was. What do you think the president is at that age? Like, your grandfather's dad or something? Like the principal of principals? I don't know.

So imagine being a little kid, sitting in class and being told that the president is about to show up. Pretty cool, right? It's a celebrity, someone you've heard of. It ain't Beyonce, but it's still pretty exciting. This probably explains why your mom made sure you changed out of that shirt you spilled milk on, and then got you a haircut.

Then the president comes in and starts touching your hair.

How do you process that? Is it just taken in stride, like, oh, this guy is touching my hair, fine? This seems likely, given that the particular kid under discussion here -- with the amazingly Van-Damme-movie-character name of Blake Diego -- Blake Diego! -- probably gets people touching his spiky haircut all the time.

But this is my question. Does he understand that the most powerful person in the world, at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to talk to the Central Command about military strikes on the Islamic State, stopped for a few minutes and messed with his haircut? This is somewhat akin to Genghis Khan, about to explain to his amassed forces how they might at last get beyond the Great Wall, first taking a few minutes to praise a nearby shepherd's goat milk. Really good milk, very fresh. Oh, thank you, Mr. Khan. 

I mean, it's not really like that at all, of course, but the scale of the thing is still about 19 orders of magnitude past what this kid recognizes. Like, right now, he's sitting and watching cartoons or something, as a parent flits in and out of the room, making -- and taking -- phone call after phone call after phone call. The adult walks in, "-- touched his hair! I know! No, he said that he --," and walks back out, over and over for five hours. For the rest of his life, this kid will have a story ready to go when he's forced into one of those insufferable icebreaker things at a new job or in college. "OK, so, when I was in first grade."

Anyway, then the kid across the table is like, wait, Mr. Obama, can I touch your hair, and Obama's like, sure, why not. That's old news; kids have been touching Obama's hair -- and for more touching reasons -- for years. When I was six, if I were Blake Diego, I would probably have rolled my eyes. Because I was almost certainly a brat.