Michelle Obama described the struggle to give her two daughters a “normal” upbringing during the eight years when they were living at the White House.
The former First Lady said even an everyday treat taken for granted by most children would become a major logistical operation.
She told 15,000 fans at a sold-out 02 Arena talk to promote memoir Becoming: “Imagine the first time you invite Sasha Obama over for a play date..”
Mrs Obama said sniffer dogs would be brought in and parents of her daughters’ friends would be asked to be open about any guns or drugs in the house.
“I would just have to tell parents - don’t lie. They’re not going to take ‘em. They just need to know where they are,” she said.
“So imagine having that conversation and then you’re like ‘thank you for inviting Sasha over and by the way, there’s going to be a man sleeping outside of your door with a gun, can you let him come in and use the bathroom every now and then?”’ she said, sparking laughter around the arena.
“I’m surprised my girls have any friends at all,” she joked.
Mrs Obama added: “I also had to prepare the girls to be normal at the end. So while you’re doing this, you also have to think this is going to be over for them and this is their formative years.
“My girls lived in the White House longer than they lived in any house. Malia was 10 and Sasha was seven, so they came of age in the middle of that.
Mrs Obama said their family changed the protocol of the White House, with butlers having previously worn formal tuxedos every day.
“I thought no, no, no. We can’t do this,” she said, pointing out that most of the butlers were African American men, and she did not want her daughters to think that an older African American man dressed in a tuxedo was there to be their servant.
Her talk, hosted by comedian and television host Stephen Colbert, began and ended with a standing ovation.