WASHINGTON (AP) — Two weeks into her new life as a full-time Washingtonian, Melania Trump is staying true to her reputation as more homebody than social butterfly.
Not that she hasn’t been busy fulfilling her duties as first lady and first mom.
Her top priority has been settling in 11-year-old son Barron – the first boy in the White House since John F. Kennedy Jr. more than 50 years ago.
Even the smallest details of every recent Barron sighting have drawn interest: his T-shirt reading “The Expert,” his grasp on a popular fidget spinner toy as he exited Air Force One, his pivot to take a picture of the Marine One helicopter as the family returned from a Father’s Day weekend retreat at Camp David.
Mrs. Trump told “Fox and Friends” this week that she’s enjoying White House life so much that she doesn’t really miss New York. Barron is “all settled” and “loves it here,” she said.
In her first lady role, Mrs. Trump has played host to her counterpart from Panama for a lunch upstairs in the private quarters of the White House. She also accompanied President Donald Trump to the hospital to visit a Louisiana congressman and others who were shot at baseball practice, and helped plan a picnic for members of Congress on the White House lawn.
She’s also preparing to accompany the president to Poland and Germany after the Fourth of July.
Questions remain, though, about what kind and how social a first lady Mrs. Trump will be.
Will she dine out at the city’s trendiest restaurants? Pedal up a sweat at SoulCycle spinning classes? Try to go incognito on a Target shopping run?
“I don’t know anybody in New York who knows her or ever sees her socially and I suspect that will be the same here,” said Sally Quinn, an author and Washington hostess.
Even the president has described his third wife, a 47-year-old former model and native of Slovenia, as more happy at home than working the social scene.
“She would go home at night and didn’t even want to go out with people,” Trump said of his wife’s life in New York. “She was a very private person.”
Mrs. Trump and Barron continued to live at Trump Tower after the Jan. 20 inauguration so he could finish the school year in New York. The first lady announced their June 11 move to Washington with a tweet.
“Looking forward to the memories we’ll make in our new home! #Movingday,” she wrote on a photo of the Washington Monument as seen from a White House window.
Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Mrs. Trump has been and will continue to be an active first lady. But she “is taking some time to get Barron settled into his new home and she continues to be thoughtful and deliberate about her platform.” Mrs. Trump said during the campaign that she would work to combat cyberbullying as first lady. She has made no further announcements about her plans.
The first lady also needs to hire more staff, including a lead curator to help chronicle White House history and preserve its artifacts. She filled the chief usher’s position last week with an employee from the Trump hotel down the street.
Like some presidents, first ladies complain about the constraints of White House life even as they try to find ways to cope with Secret Service agents guarding them around the clock. Michelle Obama once jokingly described the mansion as a “really nice prison.” But it’s much easier for first ladies than presidents to venture out in public because they travel with far less security and staff.
Hillary Clinton said she walked around town wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses and sweat clothes, and required the members of her security detail to try to blend in with tourists. Laura Bush would go shopping in Georgetown.
Mrs. Obama was often seen dining at the city’s hottest restaurants with President Barack Obama or her girlfriends, or working up a sweat at exercise classes. She once made a Target run hiding behind dark glasses and a baseball cap.
Kathy Hollinger, president and CEO of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, said the hope with every new administration is that the president, White House staff and their families will dine out frequently.
That’s still only a hope when it comes to the Trumps.
The president dines out occasionally when he’s in Washington – but so far only at his hotel near the White House. Mrs. Trump has eaten there, too.
“The Obama family and his administration were visible in countless restaurants across the region, raising the profile of our industry as a whole, and we hope the trend continues,” Hollinger said in an emailed statement. “Mrs. Trump will find a lot of outstanding restaurants to choose from around her new home in Washington.”
Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian with the National First Ladies’ Library, said the current first lady may not find White House life to be all that confining.
She traded life in an expansive, three-story Trump Tower penthouse for a 132-room mansion with a bowling alley, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, gardens and “a lot of spaces that would allow her full privacy both indoors and outdoors.”
“It’s just hard to imagine that it’s going to be frustrating,” he said.
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