Motivating your children can be hard to do, especially these days when they all seem to be inexplicably drawn to a life of drooling in front of a tiny screen watching thirty-six-hour YouTube compilations of cats getting scared by cucumbers.
Son Number One is sixteen years old, and he was born with a little more than his share of the “I want to sit in front of this screen for the rest of my life” gene. As such, apparently, I am not above using a criminal as a motivational role model. I found that out the other day when I was watching the movie Catch Me if You Can. Number One came in and I paused the action to catch him up, explaining who Frank Abagnale, Jr. was, and what he had accomplished in just a short period of time.
If you are unfamiliar, Abagnale was a con man and a forger. He wrote his first bad check at the age of fourteen, and in the early 1960s, between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, he was impersonating an airline pilot in order to cash fake payroll checks and get free rides all around the country riding in the spare seat in the back of the cockpit.
My dad was an airline pilot and remembers getting the FAA memo about an imposter riding jump seats posing as a Pan Am pilot.
Abagnale pioneered several check forging techniques before he was caught, and afterward, worked with the FBI to help them catch other forgers.
There’s really no telling what Abagnale could have done if he’d had the computer and internet tools at his disposal that kids have today. He had to steal all his money using a typewriter, for goodness sake.
The other day, I needed to pay Son Number One some money and I didn’t have enough cash on me, so I wrote him a check. He’s had a checking account for a few years now, and uses his debit/ATM card to buy things and get cash, but apparently no one had ever written him a check??
He kept it sitting on his desk for a week before he came to me and said he had no idea what to do with it. He didn’t use the vast resources of the internet to even attempt to figure out how to deposit it. He just stared at it for a week and then complained.
It was at that point that I used a con man and a thief as an example of what to live up to. I’m not saying I’m proud of that, I’m just saying it happened.
Come on, man! Frank Abagnale was actually making fake checks when he was your age, and you can’t even be bothered to try to figure out how to deposit a real one into your account? He was impersonating an airline pilot, and you don’t even have a job at a pizza place. Those are federal crimes, man! Not just some little local misdemeanors. Show some initiative, will you?
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Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen
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