You heard me right: Phillip and I, of our own free will and choice, used our own money to buy our child a recorder and bring it home.
It was a toy we saw in the $1 section at Target, sometime near Christmas, and thought, "What a fun thing for her to play with, and it's only a dollar! Let's put it in her stocking." And so with that thought, in the cart it went.
What fools we were.
When our 4-year-old got her hands on the lovely orange plastic harbinger of doom, she asked, "What is it?"
"It's a recorder," we told her, excited. "You put it in your mouth, put your fingers on these holes, and when you blow it makes music!"
Yet, what came out of the recorder next was certainly not music.
With the vigor she'd previously reserved for blowing out her birthday candles, she emptied the full extent of her 4-year-old lung capacity into that thing and made the most unholy sound I'd ever heard.
It was like a dog whistle designed by Satan.
Our smiles began to fade as she continued blasting air into the recorder, over and over, clearly delighted with herself.
"Here, let me show you," I offered, prying it from her hands. "Blow softer, like this."
My daughter nodded eagerly.
"And if you wiggle your fingers like this," I continued, "it makes different notes!"
I handed it back to her, only to hear the demonic shrieking noise again. It turns out that "possessed teakettle" is the only sound that can come from a recorder in the hands of a 4-year-old, regardless of how much time and loving instruction you've given her.
Eventually, the recorder made its way to our attic, where toys go to die.
Fast-forward several years later, and that same child is now a 4th grader, bringing home a real recorder from school nightly to practice "Hot Cross Buns."
Life has come full-circle.
To be fair, I do see a marked improvement. She plays actual notes now, for starters.
However, the recorder is still the recorder. I've discovered that even the prettiest sound that comes from a recorder is not much better than the ugliest sound that comes from a recorder.
When she fills our house with strains from "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," Phillip and I look sideways at each other and all we can say is the same thing we said to ourselves back when she was assaulting our eardrums at age four: "At least she's cute."
Wish us luck getting through the rest of the school year.