Former US president Barack Obama has admitted to crying while dropping daughter Malia off on her first day at Harvard University. He recalled the experience in a speech at the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children in Delaware on Monday.
“For those of us who have daughters, it just happens fast,” he told the audience. “I dropped off Malia at college, and I was saying to Joe and Jill [Biden] that it was a little bit like open-heart surgery.”
Obama—teller of dad jokes, recipient of the teenage eye roll—said he was able to hold it together in front of Malia, but lost it once he and wife Michelle left campus.
“I was proud that I did not cry in front of her,” Obama said, “but on the way back, the secret service was looking straight ahead pretending they weren’t hearing me as I sniffled and blew my nose. It was rough.”
Malia Obama started her first year at Harvard in August after deferring her enrollment for a year. The former first couple were seen on campus as they helped their 19-year-old daughter move in. Obama’s speech on Monday was one of the few public appearances he’s made since leaving office. Since departing the White House, the former commander-in-chief has delivered private and public addresses that are “true to his values,” his spokesperson told Bloomberg earlier this month. That’s included paid speeches to financial firms, one of which reportedly netted Obama $400,000.
Monday’s event benefited the foundation the Biden family set up to honor Beau Biden, former vice president Joe Biden’s son, who died of brain cancer in 2015.