Giving Yourself Permission

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On weekend mornings, I like to pick up a Take-a-Hike scone at the Bleeding Heart Bakery and walk over to Fellger Park and eat it slowly.

Fellger Park is a small park, size-wise, but I see it more as an incredible, magical playlot. It’s equipped with benches for moms, dads and nannies; swings, slides, small tables for make believe tea parties, a red locomotive that doesn’t go anywhere (ah, but it affords the greatest views), and a tree-shaped sprinkler that can cool down any munchkin during a summer heat wave.

The ground is also made out of that wonderful spongy material that seems to forgive falls and the effects too much enthusiasm can have on a kid’s skin.

Last Saturday, from a bench there, I overheard a sweetly intimate father-daughter conversation. A three year-old blonde girl with slight build, wearing glasses, was looking very circumspect at the sprinkler-tree and the gleeful scurrying other kids were making directly in the path of the water.

“Dad,” she asked. “Can I go in?”

“Yes,” he answered.

She didn’t move. She just watched the other kids more intently.

“Dad,” she repeated. “Can I go in?”

Her cheeks were tender and pink, like the inside of a bunny’s ear.

“Yes,” he repeated.

She thought quietly for a bit then posed the question differently:

“Dad, will you go in with me?”

“I didn’t bring my bathing suit,” he replied. “So I won’t go in, but you can go in.” He squeezed her hand and tried to reassure her. “You can go in.”

She stood still for a while. A four year-old boy, stripped down to his underpants, raced, screaming by her, wet strands of his hair plastered against his freckles as he beat a circular path under and around the fountain’s path. Then, the coast was clear again.

I think she was about to ask her father for his approval yet one more time but instead sighed and walked slowly to the edge of the puddle made by the cascading water.

She didn’t run underneath the stream. She raised one foot, white gym shoes still tied pristinely, and stamped it down with all her might, making the water splash upward, droplets of spray tickling her legs up to the hem of her shorts.

For now, this was enough. Maybe next week, she’ll run her hands under the waterfall or step in barefoot. I was so proud of her.

Giving yourself permission to get wet is no small thing.

Re-printed with permission.

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  • Deborah Hawkins

    Deborah Hawkins has been blogging on gratitude and mindfulness for over a decade, posting over 500 essays. In December of 2019, she brought out two books, The Best of No Small Thing — Mindful Meditations, a collection of favorite blogs, and Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life — Making the Uplifting Experience of Gratitude Intentional, a workbook on her process. Through her books, classes, and coaching, she teaches people how to identify things to be grateful for in everyday experiences. New blogs are posted every week. Visit her website: Follow her on SM.,

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