For this post, I wanted to share a random little story that happened shortly after Christmas. One of Lillian’s presents this year was an electronic toy, a Fisher-Price “Smart Tablet” — you can see the same one online here. (Even though it’s advertised as being for ages 3-6, and Lillian just turned two in October, we’d been telling people asking about Christmas gifts that 3-year-old toys were okay, since she seems to do fine with them.)
So she got this electronic tablet, and seemed to really enjoy it — it was noticeable right away that it held her attention longer than most of her other toys. I wonder if maybe in some ways, it seemed like having a “big person” computer of her very own?
I admittedly hadn’t looked too closely at this toy myself, but from seeing Lillian play with it, I knew that it lit up and played music said letters out loud and such. So when she brought it to me one day, clearly wanting me to play with it with her, I just started mashing keys in that random, half-paying-attention kind of way — which is just what I’ve grown used to with these battery-powered “press a button and a thing happens” kid’s toys.
But within seconds, Lillian got mad. “No, mama!” she scolded, then pointed at the M key. “M,” she said in a stern little voice. At this point I looked more closely at the toy and realized that the screen was displaying the letter M, and that I was supposed to actually press the corresponding key. …Whoops. All I can say is that this was a rather humbling parenting moment.
Lillian took over, and the game went on. I watched in fascination as one after another, letters would flash on the screen in a random order, and she would find them, saying the letter as she pressed the key. Once you complete the round with uppercase letters, it moves to lowercase letters, and I was amazed to see that she was able to get many of these as well. I could practically see the wheels turning in her brain as she worked to distinguish between “p” and “d” when one of those popped up, and when “q” came onto the screen, not only did she press the Q key, she said “queen” while doing it.
The episode left me feeling awe-struck and proud, but also a little bewildered. From what I can gather, Lillian’s Grandma (aka my mom) apparently showed her how this letter-matching game worked in the first place (it’s one of six game modes available on the toy), and from there she just ran with it.
As a footnote to this story, this isn’t the first time she’s tried to teach me less-stupid ways to play with her toys — long-time readers may recall that it’s been going on since she was 15 months old, when she helpfully showed me the more obvious and efficient way to get all the blocks back into that shape-sorting puzzle!