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Mr. Gibbs told The Times it has been tough because he got used to spending more time with Ethan during the transition period, but with the first 100 days looming, he said he rarely gets home in time to see his son or read to him before bedtime.

Perhaps that’s why he smiled when telling the press he had not attended the president’s cocktail party for congressional leaders Wednesday night.

“I went home to read a book to my son,” he said, offering the extra detail that it was “something on mummies.”

Mr. Gibbs proudly recalled Ethan’s visit to the Oval Office the weekend after the inauguration. He said his son is excited to learn about presidents and that the 5-year-old had pointed to something in the room to declare matter-of-factly, “That’s John Quincy Adams.”

“He’s up on it,” Mr. Gibbs said.

The president is well aware of Ethan’s interest and recently gave Mr. Gibbs an Air Force One toy set to take home to his son.

Mr. Obama offered it with strict instructions: “Make sure he knows that’s from the president of the United States.”