Dropping a child off at college is usually one of the most emotionally charged days in a parent’s life. For one dad, that emotion was pure ecstasy.
Newly liberated father Sam Carins casually sucked down a Heineken in the lobby of McCormick Hall as he loudly chatted on his cellphone.
“Yeah, so are you guys on for 10:30 in the morning? Springbrook golf course, just like usual.”
Behind him, a procession of sweaty, bewildered freshmen carrying veritable mountains of luggage waited by the elevators. Carins casually leaned against the wall, his loosely fitting Hawaiian shirt hanging from his pleasantly plump dad bod as he continued to talk.
“We’re gonna have to aim for Sunday…I know it’s easier to get a tee time during the week but Cheryl insists on staying here until Saturday. Some bullshit about making sure Bobby’s OK or something. It sucks, but what are you gonna do? At least he’s out of the house now.”
Several feet away, his son Bobby ushered him over to help carry several large pieces of luggage. Sam rolled his eyes and put his hand to his forehead.
“He’s so embarrassing,” Sam said to himself as he halfheartedly walked over. “I can’t wait till he goes to college and leaves me alone.”
Sam and Cheryl Carins are from Naperville, Illinois. They just arrived in Milwaukee on Tuesday to drop their 18-year-old son, Bobby, off at Marquette for the start of his freshman year. While Cheryl eagerly helped arrange young Bobby’s room, tears forming in her eyes all the while, Sam took a more hands-off approach.
“Hey, my eighteen-year commitment to the little scamp is over,” said Sam, halfway into his second Heineken. “I get the house to myself, the car to myself, the bank account to myself. Matter of fact, I think I’ll buy a motorcycle when I get home just to celebrate having a life again.”
Tensions arose just a few minutes later over how frequently Bobby should call home. A now-sobbing Cheryl clutched her only son’s hand, imploring him to phone home every day for at least 15 minutes. Sam, now sobbing as well, grabbed on to Bobby’s other hand and implored him “please don’t do that.”
Eventually, Bobby promised to call every week, a response that earned a harrumph and a “fine” from both parents.
The elder Carins’ wildly disparate reactions seemed to weigh on Bobby, who nevertheless tried to see the positive side.
“Mom will get over it,” Bobby said. “And I’m excited that Dad gets to enjoy himself again. Although I did hear him earlier today referencing his putter as ‘the son he never had.’ I hope he doesn’t forget about me.”
Dad, standing nearby, walked up to his son and gently tousled his hair. “Aw, I could never forget you,” the new empty nester lovingly said. “The bursar’s office will send me monthly reminders.”
Several more hours passed and it was finally time to say goodbye. Both parents gave their son a tearful hug and sent him off to his first mediocre Sodexo dinner; one of many on the way to becoming a man.
Dad, meanwhile, slid on a pair of Ray-Bans and briskly walked out into the parking lot, Hawaiian shirt swaying in the late summer breeze. He ushered a wistful Cheryl into his metallic, mint-green 1984 Buick Skylark convertible and drove off with the top down.