The Instrument (of Torture)

Fourth grade is an important year. It's the year that most kids turn double-digits. It's the year that they go from being the little fish in the school hallways to being in the "upper elementary" grades. And it's the year in which fourth-grade parents everywhere are subjected to a rite of passage so taxing, so torturous, that Satan himself would chuckle with approval.

Your fourth-grader brings home .....

... a recorder.

It doesn't matter if your kid is a complete instrumental novice or some sort of gifted virtuoso - recorders all sound the same. Their toot-toot-tooting is at a frequency that hammers at your eardrums like a woodpecker. And if your kid is anything like most, the "woodpecker" is ever-present, at least for the first few days.

Colin brought his home at the end of last week, brandishing it proudly in its little felt bag. He proceeded to play "Hot Cross Buns,"emitting a few squeaky, off-key notes during the rendition. And then he played it again. And then again.

Practicing, he called it. My music teacher told us we should, he said.

And, like, what can you say about it as a conscientious parent? I mean, it's something he brought home from school. Something he's supposed to learn. It isn't like we can be all, "Stop that practicing! Put that thing away and leave it alone!" Because it's like homework. High-pitched, ear-splitting, repetitively annoying homework. "Hot Cross Buns" on loop.

Of course when only one of your children has a recorder, it's automatically the coolest thing on the face of the planet and the other children want to play it. Badly. As though it's some magical flute whose notes will produce a sparkling horde of candy-farting unicorns. This resulted in huge fights about whose turn it is to play, and endless explanations about how this is Colin's special school thing and that it needs to be kept in a safe place, and the realization that they failed to listen to said explanations because they kept sneaking the damn thing out of Colin's backpack to play it. (Apparently small children don't get that you can't exactly play a screechy recorder unnoticed.) Did I mention that this happened at times when they thought their brother wasn't looking ... such as the crack of dawn?

Yeah. It's like that.

This morning, I checked like thirty times to make sure the recorder was in his backpack so that he could take the infernal thing back to school. Colin was bouncing around by the door, saying, "I'm excited about school today!"

"Well that's good!" I said brightly. "And why are you so excited?"

"Because we're learning a new song on the recorder!"


The only thing stopping me from going downright nuts is that I remember when I was a fourth-grader, and how awesome it felt to bring home my very own instrument (never mind that it was an instrument of torture. Sorry, Mom). And I wouldn't begrudge my kids that feeling.

If you need me, I'll be out buying earplugs before Colin gets home.


  1. ***correction*** Pug had not ceased howling. He howled and howled, and 'baroooOoOOoOooOO', while spinning his little Pug circles all over the place. He was going crazy. Lol.

  2. At my son's last school, they did recorders in 5th grade. But we moved. This school doesn't do it. I'm sort of glad.

  3. Ha ha as soon as I read the post title & then the 1st 2 words "4th grade", I knew what this post was about! :P


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