Barack Obama and David Letterman
Barack Obama was the first guests on David Letterman's new series. Photo by Netflix

Barack Obama had a rough time sending Malia off at Harvard this past fall.

 

On the first episode of David Letterman's new Netflix show "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction," the former president revealed to the ex-"Late Show" host that he was pretty much a "useless," emotional wreck while dropping his daughter off for her first day at college. Comparing the experience to "open-heart surgery," Obama admitted that he got a bit teary-eyed and also struggled to put together a desk lamp for Malia's dorm.

 

"I was basically useless," Obama told Letterman. "Everybody had seen me crying and misting up for the previous three weeks, so Malia, who's very thoughtful, she says, 'Hey dad, you know, I got this lamp in this box. Can you put the desk lamp together?' I said, 'Sure.'"

 

The former president went on to say that it should've only taken 3-5 minutes using those pesky "little wrenches" that come with assemble-your-own furniture, but the job ended up taking a much longer time.

 

"It only had like four parts or something," Obama said. "I'm sitting there, just toiling away at this thing. It's taken half an hour. Meanwhile, Michelle's finished scrubbing and she's organizing closets and all this, and I was just pretty pathetic."

 

While Obama was struggling with a desk lamp, the rest of the family was hard at work getting Malia's dorm ready, especially Michelle, who channeled her inner Mom from "Dexter's Laboratory."

"It was interesting to see how everybody handled things differently," Obama said. "Michelle, she had like a cleaning glove, one of those yellow ones. She's scouring the bathroom, has all these plans about how everything should be."

Sasha, on the otherhand, tried to keep up her cool sister persona, but also pitched in to give her sister a nice send-off.

"It was really touching because Sasha tries to be cool, so she didn't want to admit that she was going to miss her sister," Obama told Letterman. "But she's neater than her sister, so she was helping to make the bed, fold clothes and just being really quiet about it but in a way that was really moving and touching."

Although he was able to keep a straight face while on campus, Obama let the tears flow in the car ride home.

"I held it together in front of Malia," Obama said. "When we drove away, Secret Service is in the front and they're just looking ahead, pretending they can't hear me in the back sniveling. But the ritual of it was powerful."