My Story: Why a Touch ‘n Go Makes a Better Toy than a Fisher Price

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Every parent and every child loves Fisher Price, including me. The first Fisher Price that Earthling received was a shape sorter for her full moon celebration. Ever since the toy came to our house, I had been looking forward to the day I would enlighten Earthling about the round, square, triangle and star shapes, and how they would go through different holes into the tortoise shape sorter. And then I would applaud with joy and exclaim praises when she gets it. The toy box stated ‘for six months and above’, so I was secretly counting down to the intended milestone.

But the journey one takes through parenthood and infancy is never to be planned. Logically to play shape sorting one would have to do it sitting. By her fourth month check up, Earthling was scrutinised for suspicion of gross motor delay by the nurse at Klinik Kesihatan Ibu dan Anak. The reason for such an alarm was that Earthling’s head flopped when lifted by her arms, and she was not pushing herself up when placed in the prone position. Being her mother, I knew that while Earthling might have been less physically aggressive, she had normal muscle strength in her torso, neck, arms and legs, and that she just liked to keep them relaxed.

Nevertheless, we tried to be cooperative parents and varied our approaches to our repeatedly failed attempts at tummy time and inducing her to lift her head while straightening her arms, like the cobra pose in yoga. She however preferred the bridge pose, arching her body into an n-shape while balancing her back on my arm. So gravity was the culprit. I started to fret; at this rate there was no way we could make her ‘pass’ the conventional developmental ‘tests’. So we started video recording Earthling’s rare moments of successes, when she forgot about gravity.

At the one month deadline for our follow up visit at the clinic, partially amused by our high technology video verdicts, the nurse nonetheless still referred our case to the doctor. But I could feel her sternness melting away. The doctor was less critical of Earthling’s developmental progress, affirmed her as having reasonable muscle strength, and attributing the observation as a variation of normal. Phew, what a relief. Other reasons might have also included her body proportion of smaller limbs to a larger head and body, natural strength for genetic reason (my family has a history of slow walkers and I had never been particularly athletic my whole life), and most importantly her temperament, being afraid of touching anything larger than her.

Back to the toy. We now knew that we have an infant who would not get into the cobra pose and consequently was slower than everyone else in sitting up straight, supported or otherwise. So how do you get her to play the shape-sorting toy? Mothers are not quitters. Determinedly I propped her to sit leaning on my body and ceremoniously unveiled the shape-sorter and guided her to explore it. She responded with cries and screams. Under such circumstances, I had to put a stop and try again the following day. After a few days she just would not touch the toy, and after that she started screaming as soon as I put her on the play mat.

Then I realised that she is definitely having a phobia. I would not cause my daughter any further emotional agony by trying to fast track her physical nor intellectual development. So I kept the shape-sorter away. And then I noticed my Touch’nGo card lying nearby. Somehow an idea popped up in my mind, why don’t I give it to Earthling to play? I washed and dried it, and scrape-tested the paint with my nails to make sure nothing came off.

Earthling was immediately endeared to the colourful card the moment she saw it. While being marginally gross motor delayed, she was way more advanced in her fine motor development. She was practicing and perfecting her pincer grip, and passing objects between her left and right hand, and of course still exploring objects with her mouth and tongue. The Touch’nGo card was just the perfect tool for her to do all that. Plus, it was visually and audibly entertaining when she made scratching sounds on the matte texture with her nails. I finally had the luxury of some down time and finished some work on my computer sitting nearby to keep an eye on her.

The Touch’nGo card became our favourite toy for a while, and the shape-sorter is still stashed away in the cabinet.

Ai Sin is an engineer and a trainer, who has an affinity for artistic and musical stuff. She is a mother to a toddler and dances to keep her balance. She is working for Go Training and sometimes brings her toddler to work as Marissa Mayer and Licia Ronzulli do.