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Xylophone of Doom

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On the way home from Pokagon (a State Park just across the border in Indiana) we visited the Outlet Mall. Making a beeline for the Book Warehouse, several of my children admired a book with a built-in xylophone. No lover of noise-making toys, I gruffly assured them that I would NOT be purchasing the book for them, especially considering a long van-ride home.

Then I made a big mistake: I left Grand-Dad alone in the store with three of my kids while I took the other two to the bathroom. When I returned, the deed was done — he had purchased the book and given it to my children to share amongst themselves.

The book seemed innocent enough, and I’m sure that my father-in-law meant well. Who could be opposed to such wholesome songs as “Jesus Loves Me” or everyone’s favorite, “Ho-Ho-Ho-Hosanna!”, even when inexpertly rendered on a xylophone? Yet it is with such an exterior that Satan often disguises his most evil instruments of sin and temptation.

No sooner was the book out of the bag than my angelic offspring began to bicker among themselves for exclusive use. Years of parental instruction on the proper sharing of toys was thrown recklessly to the winds, as each child usurped their turn to pound out “This Is My Father’s World”. Even Sarah was able to quickly articulate (at shrieks exceeding 90 decibels) her outrage when Joshua sneakily made off with the book in the midst of the melee.

Admittedly, the book has a certain charm. Each of the 12 songs are laid out with colored numbers indicating which of the bars to strike with the little plastic hammer. With only a small amount of training, it is possible to generate a song that is actually recognizable (unlike similar efforts on a recorder, which generally produces a series of undistinguishable and off-key tweets).

My children do not lack for toys. Yet at 9:15 that evening, two of them were reduced to shouting recriminations and crying tears of frustration over the possession of this same xylophone. As I reflect, I have serious doubts that man can ever learn to live in peace with his fellow, if we cannot even gracefully share something as trivial as a xylophone.

Ooops — I better conclude this blog entry — Kathy just went downstairs and she left the xylophone on the bed — if I hurry, I might be able to sneak in an extra turn.

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