By Cady Lang
January 12, 2018

Barack Obama may be the former leader of the free world, but that doesn’t mean that he’s above the challenges that every parent experiences and that includes the struggles that come with sending a child off to college.

As the inaugural guest on David Letterman’s new, six-episode Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, the Dad-in-chief divulged that, like most people, he sometimes has issues when it comes to assemble-yourself furniture. According to Obama, when he and the rest of the family moved in his daughter Malia into her new college digs (she’s currently a freshman at Harvard,) he was feeling pretty emotional about firstborn moving out, so Malia suggested that he help her put together a lamp that she had gotten for her desk.

While the lamp initially appeared to be easy to put together, Obama ran into some challenges assembling it.

“I was basically useless. Everyone had seen me crying and misting up for basically the previous three weeks, so Malia, who’s very thoughtful, she goes, ‘Dad, you know, I’ve got this lamp in this box, could you put the desk lamp together?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ It should have taken five minutes or three minutes and it had one of those little tools. It only had like four parts and I’m just sitting there, toiling at this thing for half an hour and meanwhile, Michelle has finished scrubbing and she’s organizing closets and I was just pretty pathetic.”

While Obama noted that dropping off Malia at college was like having “open-heart surgery,” he also divulged that it’s been easier because of technology since the two text on an almost daily basis, with Malia checking in on him and sending him lots of heart emojis.

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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