Lean on me.
For every stage of my daughter’s development there is a formed piece of brightly colored plastic. At around 9 months our daughter could stand, provided she had support. Standing or leaning was a big step. It required a piece of plastic. The piece for this stage was the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Learning Table. The redundancy of the name is a nice touch.
The Laugh and Learn Learning Table or LLLT or Table is quite simply a table designed for very small people. It’s the perfect height for someone who is three apples tall. That’s Smurf-size, if you missed the reference. Upon closer examination the table is a dinner table or a restaurant table. It’s covered in various foodstuffs.
Saltine crackers. Cookies. A slice of pizza. Alphabet Soup. Some fruit. Salt and pepper. All the food is anthropomorphized with smiley faces and beady little eyes. It’s a carb-heavy meal, nutritionally devoid of… nutrition. Jamie Oliver wouldn’t approve. The people who made Lunchables would.
There’s not a green vegetable in sight. Sorry. There are peas –hidden under a napkin. That’s an old trick kids should learn early. The peas even exclaim “Surprise!” when they’re discovered.
“Surprise, you have scurvy.”
This table isn’t designed to teach healthy eating. It’s designed to drain three AA batteries as it lights up and sings songs in two modes; Learning Time and Music Time. They are differentiated by very little. In Learning Mode when you press the cookies it sings and counts to 10. However when you press the cookies in Music Mode it sings the exact same song without the lyrics. No learning. Just acoustic.
Pressing various buttons produces different songs or audio clips. The related button sounds are quickly cut off if you press another button immediately. This teaches cause and effect. However, due to fast button mashing I’ve heard the table say things like “blue… apple” or finish the ABCs like this “…L M N O… That’s a spicy pizza.”
The main feature of the table is the bowl of Alphabet Soup. Various letters float within the soap. Not all of the letters, just C, Z, X, Y, B, and A. That’s 20 shy of the full alphabet and a terrible Scrabble hand. A detachable soup spoon accompanies the soup. If you were to look at it independent of the table you might assume it’s a bright red woman’s pump. The pump/spoon rattles.
For the few weeks when our daughter was content to simply stand this table was her anchor. She loved spinning the wheel, grooving to the various songs, and reaching for the spoon. Then she discovered she could walk, provided she had help.
The table then became her launch pad for walks. It was where she would stand arm outreached begging to be walked by mommy or daddy or anyone within grasp. Begging to neither laugh nor learn. But to walk.