“Hi Maddy! Are you getting set up for a condiments party or something?” “Oh dear me no. These are just examples of the kind of muck that is banned in my house.” “Well excuse me! I’ll come back another time when you’re less grumpy.” “Ooo sorry about that, it didn’t come out quite right.” “Are you telling me that you deprive your children of ketchup and American mustard? That’s gotta be in the Un-American Activities ban!” “Hmm you’re probably right, but they’re not banned any more.” “Oh. So what made you change your mind?” “Hand strength, or rather the lack of it.” “Is something wrong with their hands?” “No, it’s just that they’re a bit…… "feeble.” “Feeble? What's the magic ingredient in ketchup that strengthens hands!” "Well it's not Riboflavin dearie." "Why are their hands weak?" “Well if you never use your hands for anything, then they don’t develop any muscles.” “Surely not. Hands are just…......well, I’m not sure what they are?” “Do you remember when you were little and your hand would cramp up when you were writing, ache a bit?” “Yes now you come to mention it, I do remember that. Still get it now as it happens, probably well on the way to carpel tunnel, but that’s because of the repetitive nature rather than lack of muscle strength.” “But you remember the pain? So if your hands hurt doing little tasks, it’s simpler not to use them at all, which makes it worse.” “What do you mean? How can you not use your hands?” “Actually is much easier than you might imagine.” “I can’t imagine it at all!” “Well say your plate is sticking off the edge of the table, instead of pushing it back with your hand, you can push it back with your tummy.” “Oh. Well I suppose your tummy is probably nearer.” “Or you want to move something else on the table so you just nudge it with your elbow.” “Hmm that’s a bit more awkward. Why wouldn’t you use your hand in that situation?” “Part of it might be that the thing has an unpleasant texture.” “The tactile defensiveness thingummy!” “Yes.” “You know that sounds like a pretty lethal combination, don’t want to touch things in the first place and weak hands.” “Indeed.” “Hang on a minute. That’s why you have the squeezy ketchup! A dual goal of making their hands stronger and helping independence.” “Yes indeedy.” “What if they didn’t like ketchup! Then you’d be in a pickle.” “Actually you can get squeezy pickle too!” “Really! Now that does sound disgusting.” “It is.”
“There are lots of "developmental toys" these days to help with hand strength though. Why don’t you get them some of those?” “I did.” “No luck?” “Boring.” “Oh yes I was forgetting the motivation thingummy for a moment there.” “Never forget the motivation thingummy.” “Is that an order?” “No, no, no, more of a gentle request.” “Horse and water to you missy!” "Pass me the nose bag, but don't fill it with ketchup."