The “No Hug” Rule

The “No Hug” Rule

From Chicken Soup for the College Soul

The “No Hug” Rule

The first day of kindergarten

He hurried to the door

Shrugging off his mother’s hugs

He didn’t need them anymore

For he was all grown up now

Too big for all that stuff

Instead he waved a quick good-bye

Hoping that would be enough

When he came home from school that day

She asked what he had done

He handed her a paper

With a big round yellow sun

A picture quite imperfect

For he’d messed up here and there

But she didn’t seem to notice

Or she didn’t seem to care

The first day of junior high

He hurried to the door

Running from his mother’s hugs

He didn’t want them anymore

He ignored her calling out to him

As he hurried down the street

Near the intersection

Where his friends had planned to meet

He hoped that she would understand

Why he had to walk to school

Riding with his mother

Just wouldn’t have been cool

And when he came home from school

She asked what he had done

He handed her some papers

With Xs marked on more than one

The teacher clearly pointing out

The wrong answers here and there

But his mother didn’t seem to notice

Or she didn’t seem to care

The first day of senior high

He hurried out the door

Jumped into the driver’s seat

Of his jacked-up shiny Ford

He left without his breakfast

He left without a word

But he turned and looked back

Before pulling from the curb

He saw her waving frantically

As he drove away

He tapped his horn just once

To brighten up her day

He saw a smile cross her face

And then he drove from sight

Onward to a different world

A new exciting life

And at his graduation

As tears shone in her eyes

He knew the time had come

To bid his mom good-bye

For he was off to college

Off to better days

No more rules to abide

Alone to find his way

Suitcases filled the trunk

Of his dirty beat-up Ford

He couldn’t wait to get to school

To check out his room and dorm

She opened up his car door

Closed it when he got in

Then smiled proudly at her son

As tears dropped from her chin

She reached through the open window

Wished him luck in school

And then she pulled him close to her

And broke the “no hug” rule

He felt the freedom greet him

As he pulled out on the interstate

At last his life was his alone

He anticipated fate

College life was more challenging

Than he ever could have hoped

There was no time to respond to letters

His mother often wrote

He was a grown adult now

Too old for all that stuff

His visits during holidays

Would have to be enough

Besides, midterms were quickly coming

The pressure was immense

He studied late into the night

His need to pass intense

He wondered how he’d manage

How he’d ever cope

What if he failed his tests?

Would there be no hope?

As if he had a calling

He headed down the interstate

Driving at full speed

The hour getting late

He pulled up to the curb

Where once he used to roam

And went through the open door

Of his mother’s home

She was sitting at the table

With a drawing in a frame

Memories from the past

That brought both joy and pain

She didn’t need to ask

Why he was home from school

Because she knew the answer

When he broke the “no hug” rule

His arms around her tightly

Peering at the drawing he had done

Lots of trees, imperfect branches

And a big round yellow sun

She smiled a knowing smile

And then she spoke aloud

“Son you always did

And you always will make me very proud

For look how far you’ve traveled

From that little boy so brave

Heading off to kindergarten

Your hand up in a wave

And through the years you’ve made mistakes

But son I’ve made them, too

Being perfect is not an option in life

Simply do the best you can do

And don’t expect more than that

For life is supposed to be fun

You’ve only got one to live

Do what is best for you son”

Sitting in his dorm room

When the pressure seems too much

And all that he is striving for

Seems completely out of touch

He peers at the drawing

Of a big round yellow sun

And then he is reminded

Of just how far he’s come

From childhood to manhood

Fighting back many a fear

Through trials and tribulations

Holding back many a tear

Knowing that being successful

Isn’t passing every test

And the only way to falter in life

Is by failing to do his best

And the biggest lesson he’s learned

One he did not learn in school . . .

That it’s okay, for even a man

To break the “no hug” rule

Cheryl Costello-Forshey

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