Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Felony Hobbying

I heard something a while back that I always liked – The problem with raising strong-willed, free-thinking adults is that you have to live with strong-willed, free-thinking children.

We have our share of that going on at our house, but really what we’ve mainly been dealing with is interests. So, ours goes more like, the problem with raising Son Number Two into a very interesting and widely-studied adult is that you have to live through all the projects. It’s not as catchy as the original, but it fits our situation perfectly.

Our first inclination that we might be dealing with a renaissance child was the crocheting in the second grade. He was good! There has been construction. There has been photography. There has been 3D printing. There have been internet sales and marketing companies. He’s owned multiple web domains. There has been electrical. There has been woodworking, wood burning (both art and arson), drones, painting, sculpting, drawing, photoshop, pebble art, cake making, and machinery design.

So, when he came to me last year and said he wanted to build a forge in our backyard, it was not a big surprise.

“Why do you want a forge?”

“So I can make knives.”


His first plan had a large homemade cinderblock forge inside an all-wooden Tuff Shed-type structure. He was going to put it where the old play structure currently sits, and he was either going to sell the play structure that he doesn’t own for the money to buy the shed, or make the shed out of the play structure. Details were loose, varied, and stupid.

I decided that catching a shed and two different neighbors’ fences on fire wasn’t one of my bucket list items, so I said no. Now, as every one of you who has raised or is currently raising a strong-willed, free-thinking child knows, that was not the end of the conversation.

I believe I heard the word “forge” about six million more times in the following four days. Just before my brain exploded, we settled on a small, propane, commercially-made, portable forge box that could go in our garage. Who needs to use a garage for cars, am I right?

And thus began the knife making. Like everything else he does, he dove headfirst into it and got pretty good, pretty quickly. He mixed in some artistic photography for his Instagram knife page, got a laser engraver for the handles, and pretty soon his friends took notice.

At this point, for legal reasons, I must tell you that everything I’m about to tell you is completely fictional, made up by me for entertainment purposes only. OK? OK.

One night at dinner, about a month after the forging began, Son Number Two says, “Oh, hey. I sold one of my knives today!”

My response was, “Hey, cool. To who?”

His mother, who is much smarter than me, asked, “Where?”

“To [name withheld for reasons that will become obvious]”

“Where did you sell it?” asked his very smart mother, again.

“My car. I had it in the trunk.”

“Where was the car?”

“In the parking lot.”

“The parking lot of school??”


When the steam stopped coming from my wife’s ears, she started to explain why that was not such a great idea, with words like “weapons” and “campus” and “expulsion” and “no college” and “dumbass” and a lot of other words.

I guess Number Two has some sort of death wish, because he actually interrupted her at one point to try the ludicrously false argument that the parking lot was not technically “on campus.”

It was at that point that I had to physically restrain my wife long enough for him to run.   

He made it out of the situation alive and un-expelled. Fast forward to a week or so ago when he got home from his spring break Europe trip, chaperoned by his favorite teacher and a few other school staff members. The group had taken a day trip to Geneva, so Son Number Two, of course, bought a few genuine Victorinox Swiss Army knives from the source.

He brought home a couple little ones for his brothers and a larger one for himself. I noticed as they were getting ready to go to school that he also had an extra.

“Oh, that’s [unnamed state employee’s] knife. I brought it home for them in my checked bag.”

“Well, that was nice of you. When are you giving it to them?”

“This morning.”

“At school?”


“Well, I guess it’s a good thing your mom left for the day already. Try not to get arrested.”

(Again, I must reiterate, this is all fictional. Totally made up by me.)

I guess if one of your hobbies takes you down the path of High School Arms Dealer, it’s good to be in league with at least one or two insiders high up in the organization…

We really can’t wait to see what this kid does after graduation, and we have money set aside for the next chapter of his life to help him on his way.

Whether it’s used for tuition or bail still remains to be seen.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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1 comment:

  1. Marc and Sandra Jean are never board...gotta love those 3 boys and their enthusiasm for life...