As parents dropped their kids off at college this fall, President Barack Obama said what many fathers across the country may have been thinking.

At an event for the Beau Biden Foundation, Obama reflected on how quickly kids grow up. “It happens fast,” he said, as reported in a video posted by WDEL radio. “I dropped off Malia at college, and I was saying to Joe [Biden] and Jill [Biden] that it was a little bit like open-heart surgery.”

Even though it was difficult to move Malia into her dorm room at Harvard, he managed to hold back tears while on campus. “I was proud that I did not cry in front of her, but on the way back, the Secret Service was all looking straight ahead, pretending they weren’t hearing me as I sniffled and blew my nose,” he joked. “It was rough.”

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