“We feel really lucky because we grew up in a time before cell phones, and so even though the people in our families had big jobs, they weren’t coming home from work tweeting,” Hager, who currently hosts NBC’s TODAY with Hoda & Jenna and is founder of the Read with Jenna book club, said. “That is something that is really important to us, is to try to show up for our kids in being present. Not always looking down, but into their eyes.” From the sisters’ perspective, unconditional love not only requires that level of presence, but also the ability to let kids fail. “It’s such an important message to impart to kids—allow kids to make mistakes.”
Hager then brought up the example of the twins’ infamous margarita incident—back in 2001, when their dad, President George H.W. Bush, was still fairly newly installed in the White House, Bush and Hager had gotten in trouble for drinking underage at a bar in Austin. “It was stupid, we were total idiots,” Hager explained. She and Bush debated whether they’d been 19 or 20, before Hager joked, “I mean we can Google it.”
Chen wanted to know if it was a spicy margarita.
“It was before spicy margaritas existed! Way before skinny margaritas existed!” Hager explained. “It was like, a thousand-calorie margarita in Texas, which we were going to enjoy quite deliciously, but we were illegally drinking.” The tabloids, naturally, had a field day, and Hager recalls how their photo wound up on the cover of People magazine. “That felt shameful,” Hager added. “But we had parents who were like, ‘No, no, no, it’s okay. You’re allowed to fail.’ And thank goodness, because how could we be normal, well-adjusted adults without being able to make mistakes?”
“It’ll be a learning lesson one day when you’re talking to your 20-year-old daughter,” Chen said. “You can slide that vintage copy of People magazine, like ‘Mommy has a story to tell you.’”
“I won’t show her the picture of when I had to go to court, and I wore a toe ring,” Hager said with a deadpan tone. “Nobody told me that toe rings didn’t look fancy! I thought it was an extra jewel!”