Toll Free Advice to Parents Everywhere

Will someone please call 1-800-INDULGEME?

Remember back when all the “toll-free” numbers started with 1-800? You have to be older than 21 years old to remember those days because it was March 1, 1996, when 888 toll-free numbers were added to the standard 800 numbers that began back in 1966. My daughter Riley was born just 9 months after they started issuing 877 prefixes for toll-free numbers and since then, we’ve seen 866 and 855 and 844 hit the scene.

In comparison, I wrote the first Carp’s Corner post (the blog was originally named The Realtor’s Toolbox) on March 4th, 2008 when my daughter was 9 years old. This post you’re reading now is my 800th blog post. I just dropped Riley off at the University of South Carolina yesterday to move her into her dorm to begin her freshman year. I figured that a milestone post should come at a milestone moment.

Will someone please call 1-800-TIME-FLIES?

I’ve often said that one of the keys to earning trust and achieving success in life is consistency. From her first day of kindergarten back in 2004, Riley has consistently shown up at school, ready to…dare I say it…build relationships, solve problems and have fun? From Windermere Elementary to Hastings Middle School to Upper Arlington High School, she has matriculated nicely, thanks to showing up, giving her best effort and being open to possibilities.

Isn’t that what we should all be doing, every day, no matter where or what we do? Show up, give our best effort and be open to the new possibilities of what might happen next?

Will someone please call 1-800-TOO FAST?

Riley and her favorite Kindergarten teacher at the beach on Hilton Head Island

How can she already be in college? I can still taste the ice cream from the ice cream social at Windermere welcoming new teacher Miss Lenegar to the school. Riley and her classmates would be Heather’s first class as a teacher and now Riley babysits Heather’s daughter. It’s cool seeing the impact that Heather and Jennifer, Emily, Tracy, and Mindy had on Riley as she will be majoring in Elementary Education in college.

Hastings was where she tried softball and tennis before finally getting bitten by the golf bug (“Thank God,” sighed Dad) and carried that love throughout high school where she eventually served as a co-captain of the Girl’s Golf Team. Hard work, dedication, and teamwork helped lead her team to a 4th place finish in the OHSAA State Tournament.

Fast forward through Spring semester, final college visits and graduation and suddenly we are moving her into a dorm and saying goodbye?

Will someone please call 1-800-MOVIN IN?

As we unloaded the “best of her last 18 years” from the full Honda Pilot to the “smaller than advertised” dorm room, I suddenly realized that with each box, bookshelf, and bed sheet, I wasn’t just moving Riley into her college life, I was slowly moving her out of my house. Maybe that’s why I started walking slower with each trip to the car…or perhaps it was the 98-degree temperatures in Columbia, South Carolina with a “106 heat index”? Turns out it was the warmest day of the year in the capital of South Carolina which seems fitting that Riley and her new best friend and roommate Sophie are poised to “bring the heat” to their new college careers.

And then the moment came. The time to say “goodbye” to the little girl you first said “hello” to 18+ years ago in a sterile hospital room…

Will someone please call 1-800-DADS CRY?

It has to happen, right? You can’t stay there all night, rearranging pencils in her new pencil holder and verifying her wireless printer is set up properly for the 8th time. “Take a deep breath and man up,” I said to myself. I knew I had to break the “goodbye ice” before Ronda did, so I simply said “Okay kid. You need to get some sleep. Make me proud.” I walked over and gave her the best hug I could. I started crying. She started crying. I could see Ronda crying. I broke my clutch so Ronda could jump in and hide her tears on Riley’s shoulder as my little girl reciprocated on her Mom’s shoulder. I simply walked around, fluffed her pillows, and caught my breath.

Then we walked out.

Will someone please call 1-800-TAKE IT FROM ME?

If you have a child who will someday be headed college, please do me a favor. Listen with genuine interest to their stories about their first day of school this week or next. Ask them about their teachers, their classmates and what they had for lunch. Help them with their homework – even if you have no freakin’ idea what the hell Common Core is. Put down the mobile device, close the laptop, turn off the television…and if that doesn’t work, follow them on Instagram and Snapchat and simply send them the heart emoji and tell them you love them. Trust me, before you know it, my yesterday will be your tomorrow.

Will someone please call 1-800-PROUD DAD? 

If there was such a hotline, you’d hear me at the other end. I’d talk about her caring personality. Her creative spirit. Her fashion sense and her infectious laugh. I want her to be adventurous, inquisitive and of course, safe. I want her to build relationships, solve problems and have fun.

Good luck at South Carolina, Riley. I love you.






14 Responses to Toll Free Advice to Parents Everywhere
  1. Doug Devitre
    August 18, 2017 | 2:22 am

    Congratulations Sean! She’s a lucky girl to have such a great role model.

    • Sean Carpenter
      August 18, 2017 | 11:20 am

      Thanks Doug. You’re a long way away from that day but it will be here before you know it. Hope you’re well.

  2. Stacy
    August 18, 2017 | 2:32 am

    1-800- you made me cry too

    • Sean Carpenter
      August 18, 2017 | 11:21 am

      Tears are simply love escaping the body

  3. Rebecca Black
    August 18, 2017 | 11:50 am

    Good Lord, now I’m crying, too! It was fun to text with Ronda as you made your way there and then made your way home. I have no doubt that Riley will make her mark at South Carolina. She has had a great family for 18 years!

    • Sean Carpenter
      August 20, 2017 | 1:30 am

      Thanks Beckeye. We really appreciate your support and friendship for Riley and helping her through sorority rush. Buckle up – these next few years with Evan will go quickly.

  4. Anthony Malafronte
    August 18, 2017 | 12:48 pm

    My favorite of all your blog posts! Which is saying something… you write great Blogs!
    Nothing better than watching your kids work through stuff and make things happen!
    I’m waiting for the one that juxtaposes…. the Gator v. Gamecock dilemma coming your way!
    Our last is a Junior at UF and it seems like just yesterday he was ….. like 2!

    Be well and enjoy the ride my friend!

    • Sean Carpenter
      August 20, 2017 | 1:31 am

      I appreciate the kind words Anthony. Means a lot.

  5. Jenny Bertagna
    August 18, 2017 | 8:40 pm

    What a wonderful post! Brings tears to my eyes. I put my oldest on the bus for Kindergarten this week, can’t imagine dropping him off at college! She’ll do great!!

  6. Carl Bergeron
    August 19, 2017 | 1:56 pm

    Sean – Excellent Post! I remember meeting a wide-eyed freshman in Rawlings Hall all those years ago. The days are long, but the years are short. Congrats to you and Ronda, and best of luck to Riley (except when USC faces the Gators). Dikaia Carl

    • Sean Carpenter
      August 20, 2017 | 1:35 am

      I still remember that day as it was the first day of the best six years of my life. Thanks for being part of it, my friend

      Dikaia and Go Gators

  7. Diane
    August 19, 2017 | 3:43 pm

    What a heartfelt post Sean! It doesn’t get any easier when they get their first job and really “leave the nest”. Enjoy that college experience with her and watch her grow and soar. She of course, has been taught well by you and Ronda. ❤️

    • Sean Carpenter
      August 20, 2017 | 1:34 am

      Thanks Diane. We have good role models to watch out our back window and over the fence. 🙂

  8. Wade Perry
    August 22, 2017 | 10:16 am

    Cheers to Dad for a job Darn Well Done. This is “the good stuff.”