It's not every day the first lady shows the American people her soft side. But that's what onlookers witnessed when Melania Trump comforted a student who spilled water in the White House on Monday. While she's rarely seen at events without a script, she seems to enjoy interacting with children, having recently participated in the White House Easter Egg Roll. These moments counter the seemingly stern and rehearsed image of Trump we're used to seeing.
Monday afternoon in the Blue Room of the White House, Melania and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met with 13 middle schoolers in a classroom-like setting for a "listening session." Each student had to write on the board how they were feeling, according to ABC News. When one student finished writing "energized," he accidentally knocked a glass off a table on his way back to his desk.
The boy seemed immediately nervous, but the first lady put him at ease. Placing a hand on his back, she said, "No problem. Don't worry, it's just a water, OK?" Trump seemed calm, given it was the same day the news broke that the FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen, her husband's personal lawyer.
The point of meeting with the students at the White House that day was for Melania and DeVos to listen to the kids' different thoughts and challenges and to "help children everywhere do their best," the first lady said. When she shared her own emotion on the board, Trump wrote "excited."
Some of the 10- to-13-year-olds wrote they were "grateful," while one said "respected," and another wrote that they were "nervous." Trump may have found it easy to relate to these children considering her son, Barron, is 12 years old.
This moment between Trump and the boy was unique given her generally formal demeanor. While she was an active participant in the White House Easter events recently — and even read a book to the kids — people still made fun of the way she presented herself. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel mocked the way she read the children's book, imitating her Slovenian accent, which led people to call for a boycott of his show.
At most of the events where Trump is present, she has a script in tow and people have commented that she seems robotic. For instance, in her first speech of 2018, she stuck to the script when she discussed the survivors of the Parkland shooting and called on the audience to promote "kindness," according to CNN.
"I am asking you all to join me today and commit to promoting values such as encouragement, kindness, compassion, and respect in our children," she said. "With those values as a solid foundation, our kids will be better equipped to deal with many of the evils in our world today, such as drug abuse and addiction and negative social media interactions."
Trump is so used to reading from her prepared statements, in fact, that she was once accused of plagiarizing a speech by Michelle Obama almost word-for-word. When speaking at the Republic National Convention in 2016, some of Trump's sentences were eerily similar to those spoken by Michelle during the Democratic National Convention in 2008. The campaign denied any plagiarism in the speech.
Rather than simply hearing another canned speech about the importance of kindness or her desire to rid the world of bullying, we saw Trump act out some of these values firsthand. Maybe during this tumultuous time — with the Donald Trump-Russia investigation intensifying and an alleged affair her husband had with an adult film star making headlines — the first lady was trying to tell everyone that everything is going to be OK.