Life is filled with difficult decisions. White or Wheat? Black or Pinto? Yell at the person who puts the toilet paper roll on the wrong way? Most of the million decisions we make are minor and have no lasting consequence other than maybe a long afternoon popping Pepto. Other decisions leave a mark for years to come.

Letting Finley use Therapy Putty falls decidedly in the latter category.

I’ve been fortunate enough so far to avoid physical therapy, but I’ve seen others go through the struggle. From what I’ve seen, the hardest part of that process is doing the prescribed exercises day in an day out when the therapist is nowhere to be seen. Fighting against the atrophy of the muscles, getting them to do what they should despite silent screams of protest doesn’t sound fun. Going through that for months or even years when nobody will know if you choose to skip on that day’s torture session makes it even worse.

For adults it’s hard enough. Convincing a six month old to do the same thing when he sees nothing but the pain is like trying to convince a conspiracy theorist that the strips in dollar bills aren’t actually used to track your location.

Six months is about when Finley’s physical therapist first gave us a list of exercises to do three or six or a hundred times a day, despite the window shattering wails of protest each exercise evoked. Six years later, getting him to work through his exercises is only slightly easier.

One muscle that has always been particularly weak is Finley’s hand strength. His therapists have given us loads of toys to try to help strengthen that grip, but when playing with a toy is like lifting a 2000 lb weight, it’s not exactly a ton of fun.

The one toy he will play with, though, is Therapy Putty.

Therapy Putty is basically Play-Doh if Play-Doh had been created by the inventor of Duct Tape. The stuff is strong, sticky, and moves slightly slower than molasses. Pulling it apart and bending it to your will takes some real effort. And Finley absolutely loves the stuff.

Unfortunately, in the wrong place, the stuff is permanent.

I put the shoe in for reference. Which is super helpful since shoes are all the same size.

I put in the obligatory shoe reference. Which is super helpful since shoes are all the same size.

Last year, when we first got him the Therapy Putty, he’d carry it around with him like a favorite doll. Then he’d get distracted and leave it in the strangest places. We have small stains all over the carpet, including the five inch across stain pictured above. We’ve had to throw away clothes because of it. The stuff sticks. Removing it would take a flamethrower.

So we took the Therapy Putty away. Is it right to take away the only hand exercise toy Finley would voluntarily use to keep our house from turning a mottled shade of hot orange? Well, that’s what we did. Based on our parenting successes so far, the mere fact that we did it probably means it was the wrong choice.

This weekend, he found the industrial sized bucket of therapy putty hidden in the basement. He hauled it up the stairs while I was distracted cooking dinner. I first noticed what he had when he slammed it against the dining room table. Our eyes met. I looked down at the tub, then back at the serious scowl plastered on his face while he ripped the lid off the putty.

“Daddy,” he said, “we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

A lot of work indeed. I just hope it doesn’t involve more splotches of orange to contrast with the yellow mustard stains already spread across our carpet.