Septemus: Author’s Notes on the Challenge

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At this point in the game-play, the challenge, which ends on the extra-terrestrial child’s Young Adult birthday, was nearly over, but I still had so much story to tell!

I decided that on the eve of the YA birthday, I would turn aging off, play according to challenge rules up until 3 p.m. on what would have been the birthday, and then declare the challenge done, while continuing with the save, challenge-restrictions lifted, until this arc of the story reached its conclusion. (There is a sequel planned to pick up after Sept becomes a Young Adult.)

During the challenge, we can’t click on the extra-terrestrial child’s portrait, check his needs, assess his skills, or direct his actions. So once 3 p.m. Sim-time came, I was curious to see what I’d find!

I’d directed Sebastion to do a lot of character-building interactions, from “teaching about…” to “influence to…” to “reinforce.” And the approach worked, leading to four values within the traits level, and the fifth very close to it.

character

With “influence to…” do homework combined with “reinforcing doing homework” and “reinforcing getting good grades,” Sept was a great student. Another trick I used was to “influence to work on school project,” then once Sept started, I had Sebastion help him. This way, even when Sept stopped working on the project five minutes later (Sim-time–usually to go check to see if there were any dishes to wash! 🙂 ), I was able to have Sebastion complete the project, yet since Sept initiated it, he received full credit for it! I used that technique twice and Sept received some generous grade-boosts from it.

One thing I love about doing homework is that it increased responsibility–of course, the flip-side to that is that higher responsibility contributed to Sept’s persistent dishes-doing activities, even with no dirty dishes on the premises!

grade

Sept rolled Soulmate. It fits! I was really pleased and surprised to see that he’d gained 1,075 satisfaction points! I decided to save up to 2,000 and buy “Incredibly Friendly” with them. I will be switching aspirations temporarily to have him complete “Friend of the World.” That’s one of my favorite early aspirations to complete, since this way, with the reward trait, we don’t have to worry about the Sim losing friends when he gets too busy to socialize with all his friends. (Note from Future-Me: It’s harder than expected for Sept to complete this aspiration–we’ve run into a batch of xenophobes, at present, and so the usual “Friendly Greeting” + “Get to Know” + “Brighten Day” = Instant Friend isn’t working.)

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I’ll switch Sept back to Soulmate after Friend of the World is done, and I might have him also work on Body Builder and maybe the writer aspirations simultaneously. (I love switching between aspirations!)

Sept’s skills aren’t bad for an autonomous Sim. He seems naturally gifted in Logic and enjoys it greatly. Fitness accompanies his “Active” trait, which he acquired as a teen. Rocket Science was achieved quickly through helping his dad build the rocket. The lot traits facilitate that!

skills

Reflections on the Challenge

I love this challenge. It’s obviously another Pinstar Classic! (I mean, look at all the awesome stories it’s spawned!) This has several features which I adore in a challenge:

  • It’s short.
  • It lets the Simmer learn about Sims and, especially, Sim AI.
  • It doesn’t mistreat Sims or force them to do things that they wouldn’t do on their own.
  • It provides ample inspiration for stories.
  • And the best part about this one is that we’ve created a rich collaboration from it! (Never thought I’d be spending my weekday evenings translating English into Vingihoplo! LOL!)

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Plus, the single-most enjoyable aspect of this challenge, for me, are all the heartfelt moments between care-giver, child, and the Simmer. TS4, like no other iteration of the game, can create rich emotional interactions. I have fallen head-over-heels with Septemus–and I don’t feel I’ve invented him. He is, in game, the way he is in story. Truthfully, I feel it’s an honor and privilege to get to have him in my game and to get to know through their stories all the other pagotogo!

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Get ready for more! The story continues! Thank you, readers and collaborators, so much, for being part of this! 🙂

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Zuki: Bear-Chair

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Zuki loves the Bear-Chair. Placed before the big garden window in the girls bedroom, with rugs on the floor and Meadow and Jasper’s bright paintings on the walls, it’s easy to see why this is her favorite place.

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It’s her new dining spot. Jena has taken to joining her.

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Jena has stepped right into the role of big sister-cousin. She explains everything to Zuki.

“Don’t worry about being an orphan and a refugee,” I heard her tell Zuki the other day. “I am an orphan refugee, too!”

She said it as if it were something to be proud of. I suppose, given the way she went on to define it, it’s worthy of pride. Or at least, gratitude.

Confession time: I was adopted. My mom, a beautiful tall Jamaican woman, and my dad, a dapper bespectacled Japanese man, met in San Myshunu. In every photo, I’m a little scruffy thing, held in their arms, caught by the camera mid-squirm. “You are a very lucky young lady,” my dad always told me. I was raised to believe that adopted children are not only special for having been chosen, but that they are Most Fortunate for having been given a reason for ongoing gratitude that lasts through their lifetime.

“Being a refugee is no big deal,” Jena explained to Zuki. “It just means that you left someplace dangerous to come live someplace safe.”

Zuki whistled and clucked.

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“I like that definition,” I told Jena.

“It’s true, isn’t it, Mizuki Suzuki?” She never calls me just Mizuki. It’s always “Mizuki Suzuki,” or, if she’s feeling especially affectionate, Mizu-Suzu.

“It certainly is true, Jena,” I replied.

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We are so lucky that we live in a safe place, that our fields aren’t littered with landmines and UXOs, that our nights are quiet, and our streets are calm. We live in a refuge, so it only makes sense that we would open our homes to refugees. What these two little girls don’t know is the peace they carry, each an ambassador and diplomat. After all, if anyone met them, how could they not love them? And if you love them, wouldn’t you then want to do anything you could to ensure peace for the lands where they come from and the peoples they belong to? Open your home and heart to a refugee, and next thing you know, you’re marching for peace, too!

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Zuki’s Home!

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Today was Zuki’s first day with us. She went straight to the doll house. Her eyes were so wide, and she chirped.

“Think she’s hungry?” Meadow asked, when she started gnawing on Flower Mommy Doll.

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She was humming. “I think she’s happy!” I said.

It’s hard to believe this day is here! This whirlwind happened after Meadow’s pen pal Dove wrote to her. I knew something was up when I saw Meadow reading her pen pal’s letter. Meadow gets this look like she wants to save the world, and that’s when I know: buckle-up for change!

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“What is it?” I asked. I could tell something big was going to happen.

“Oh, Mizuki. It’s terrible. A refugee ship crashed and there were little kids on board.”

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“And you want to help?” I asked. I needn’t have asked. I already knew the answer.

“Of course!” Meadow answered, just like I knew she would.

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Next came a string of email messages, phone calls, and texts, and lots of long conversations about how best to help: Financial support? Meadow’s got loads of money. Volunteering with the agency? We both have a little extra time in our busy schedules. Holding workshops for care-givers? We’ve got expertise. Providing trauma-therapy training for the social workers? Meadow is a gifted therapist. Eventually, it came out that what was really needed were homes for the survivors, most of whom were under three years old.

Many had already been placed with qualified, carefully selected individuals, and the toddlers were receiving care. Already, they were successfully integrating into their families and the local communities.

But alongside these success stories remained a few dozen children who had been labeled “difficult to place.”

Some had behavioral issues; some had mobility challenges; some seemed to have nonstandard developmental patterns.

When Mr. Noriega learned that I was pursuing an advanced degree in childhood education and Meadow, a doctoral in trauma therapy, and that Meadow had already adopted a child from a refugee camp who was thriving in every way, he asked if we’d consider taking one of these “Category D” children.

I think this was what Meadow had hoped for all along. She beamed.

“We can’t really refuse, can we?” she asked.

Of course we couldn’t.

Meadow’s family has been supportive.

“Another grandniece?” said her uncle Jasper. “The clan expands!”

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Jena has been an angel.

“How do you feel about becoming a big sister?” Jasper asked her.

“I’ve been practicing,” Jena said. “I’ve been bossing the kids at school all year!”

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But Jena has natural empathy. I think she must have picked up on Zuki needing a little time to settle into her new home.

She didn’t rush towards her or try to smother her. She simply smiled in her quiet, calm way and let Zuki be in charge of her own physical space.

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The approach is working! Zuki circled, studying her big sister and clicking her tongue. She’s a very curious child.

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Confession time: I’m pretending that Zuki is Youssef and my love child. Shhh! Don’t tell!

But I think she looks like us combined. She’s got Youssef’s curly hair and broad nose. My blonde coloration and pale skin. She could be our baby!

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When we learned her first name was Zuki, Meadow and I decided she’d take my last name: we filled out her paperwork entering her name as Zuki Suzuki.

And we entered my name, Mizuki Suzuki, as the primary care-giver.

And now, I have a baby daughter, who just so happens to look like the perfect combination of me and my squeeze, my own little Zuki-burger with curly fry pigtails!

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Next >>

Septemus 31

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Dear Sept,

You’ve developed a funny habit of checking the sinks. Fortunately, we’ve only got two, the kitchen and bathroom. You will stop what you’re doing–even if you’re deep in concentration. Then you head to the sink.

“OK! All good!” you say, when you see that the faucets are off.

“You don’t have to check them all the time, son,” I said.

“I know, Pops,” you said. “I’m just making sure.”

All right. It’s not a big thing. No cause for concern. And likely, you’ll grow out of it. And even if not, there are all sorts of people, all over the world, who check that the faucets are shut off. I bet half of them haven’t even been through anything close to what you’ve been through. So, one little quirk. It’s not such a big deal.

You also keep singing other people’s songs. Some of them are heartbreaking.

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Mum is hurting, don’t know why~
Come back, come back.

bizoo

“Don’t leave me.
Not alone. Not you, too.
Come back, come back.
Stay with me.”

“Whose song is that?” I asked you. While you were singing, I saw a flash of a little indigo girl.

“It’s Panda,” you answered.

“Is she? She’s not… is she imaginary?” I asked.

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“Of course not!” you answered. “She’s my sister. What makes her mom sick, Pops? Do you know? If something happens to her mom, can she come live with us?”

Oh, man. We’ve got such a little house. I’m not sure if the agency would approve of our taking in anyone else. I’m sure they’ve got their reasons for spreading out all you kids, keeping you all separate. I know they had their reasons for not giving me the contact info for the other parents.

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But what if something happened to me?

Where would you go?

I wouldn’t want you to go back to the agency. I’d want you to be with someone else who knew about you kids, who understood you, who would be patient with you and let you be yourself, without interfering.

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“Sure, son,” I said. “If something happens to Panda’s mom, or to any of your brothers’ or sisters’ parents, we can take them in.”

I could talk to Geoffrey. I’m sure he’d see my point.

“Oh, squeegee,” you said. “And anyway, she’ll be OK, right? Panda’s mom?”

You started singing softly, so I could barely hear.

“It’s safe, it’s safe now.
There’s time and wolfbane!
There’s tea and tisane…

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“For little girls
and Mamas
And sisters
and Papas.

“Don’t worry
little Pandas.
It’s safe. It’s safe.”

Oh, I will do all I can. That’s for sure.

Love you,

Your pops.

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Author’s note: Panda’s song was written by Thymeless. And what’s happening with Panda’s mum? Read Pandora’s Box to find out!

Septemus 30

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Dear Sept,

I’m jotting down all your songs. I’ve got feeling you might not remember them, since you sing them different each time.

Maybe when you’re older, and you read this, you’ll enjoy knowing what you sang about when you were a boy.

I think this one might be my favorite.

Moonshine! Moonlight.
Smile shine. Smile bright.

It’s far. We’re near.
It’s dark. We’re clear.

sept2718

Eat your spaghetti! Don’t forget grilled cheese!
Happy with tofu! How about taco?
Let’s play with dolls now.
We’ll build a rocket.
Come and ride Kizuu,
We’re going so far…. to….

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Moonshine. Moonlight.
Will you come with me?

It’s far. We’re here.
Let’s go. Have no fear.

I’ll see you in my dream
You’ll see me in yours.
And when worlds turn and stars burn
We’ll find where our home is…
By the far star…

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You’re dramatic when you sing. It’s not showing off, or a Sinatra act, though it looks like one; you do them same even when you think I’m not watching you.

I hope you keep that lack of self-consciousness when you get older. You get so immersed in everything you do.

sept2820

After breakfast, I heard you sing a song that was different from the other ones you sing. Most of your songs are sort of mournful and filled with longing. They remind me of something that Kermit might sing.

This new one was downright cheerful:

What if the moon were made of cheese?

Would the man on the moon sneeze?

Cheeeeeeeeese!

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I asked you about it.

“It’s a Rocket song,” you said.

I wasn’t sure what you meant. “Is there more that I didn’t hear that is the rocket part?”

“There’s more–heydiddlestuff–it’s not about a rocket. It’s by Rocket.”

I never know what’s going on in the world of your imagination, son.

“Now I can hear him sing, too!” you said.

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Sometimes I wonder just how many imaginary friends you’ve got, singing and whispering to you. More than I can keep track of, that’s for sure!

Just keep on singing, and I’ll keep listening.

Your pops

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Author’s Note: Who else is singing? To find out, you’ll need to read Rainy Dayz’ Alien Adoption Challenge! Many thanks to Rainy for the Grilled Cheese Song! 🙂

Septemus 24

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Dear Sept,

We had another visit from Geoffrey, checking in to see how you’re doing.

I was happy to report that you are doing great.

I’m having fun watching you explore your world. At this stage, you’re beginning to think about future careers. I guess going to school has you thinking that way, all those questions about what you want to do “when you grow up.”

First, I’m telling you never to grow up. Just grow. Keep your openness and passion for exploration all your life.

I trust you will. It seems to be your nature.

Most of your playtime, these days, centers around trying on different careers.

Sometimes, you play doctor. I find the doll a little creepy, personally, with those weird, staring eyes, but you seem to love your little patient, and you tend to him with gentle care.

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Then you put away the doctor set, and you tell me you’re off to explore space.

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But first you have to build the rocket.

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It’s taking us a while to get this rocket finished. I’ve been reading the instructions. Most of it, we can’t make heads-or-tails out of.

“If I just look, I can figure it out,” you told me, holding up the measuring stick against a coil.

I took a shot at it after you headed in to do your homework.

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We haven’t finished it yet, but we’re persistent. I guess having a project that takes more than a day–or maybe even more than a week–to finish develops patience. Not a bad quality to have.

When our brains are tired from looking at schemata, we still find that playing dolls is the most relaxing.

“I think really, of all of the choices there might be, this is it,” you told me.

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“What do you mean?” I asked. “Choices for what?”

“What I do when I grow up,” you said.

“You want to play with dolls?”

You laughed. “No, silly!” you said. “Be a dad!”

Aw, son. That means that when I grow up, I get to be a granddad. Good choice.

Your pops,

Sebastion

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Septemus 21

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Dear Sept,

Did I ever tell you that I was shy when I was a boy? I don’t know if it came from having lost my mom and dad so young, or if it was because Poppy drilled into my head that kids should be “seen and not heard,” but for some reason, I had a hard time meeting new people, and an ever harder time speaking to them. I had to feel really comfortable with someone before I’d speak, and even then, I often let them do the talking and limited myself to nodding in return.

I suspected, with me as your dad, you might develop those same taciturn habits, but fortunately, you’re a chatterbox with everyone you meet.

One way in which you do remind me of myself as a little kid is in your studious nature. I used to love coming home and diving into my studies the moment I arrived, especially when the project involved reading or research, and you’re just the same. Your class is studying philosophers right now, and we’re bonding over Heraclitus. “Everything flows.”

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We wrote a dynamite report.

The next day, when you were at school, I checked the forums and then my inbox rang, and there was an email message. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be a very important letter.

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Helloooo Mister Sebastian

My name is Sirius and I am ten years old, this message is probably out of the blue because well I am ten and you don’t have any idea who I am, Vega is telling me I might want to explain quite a few things like for example why I am emailing you and how I found you!

I didn’t find you it was all Vega, shes really good with computer stuff, she could be a scientist when she gets as old as my dads are! So the reason my sister found that website you go on with other people was we, Vega Nova and Me, were wondering if there were even more kids like us and my sisters boyfriend Magnus (Cassie Orion and Momo are too little to wonder stuff like that I think) so she started looking around. An I think you know exactly what we mean by that, although not quite? we were born here unlike the kids you adults talk about on the forums.

Any who you people doing that project seem like good people! So our dads should be alright with us messaging you probably, Right? My dad Brio and sister Nova are a part of some penpal thing so I’ll send you a link to his profile!

From,

Sirius

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I admit I felt concerned at first. Am I really that easy to trace through bizoopagoto.forumotion.com?

I checked out Sirius’s dad’s pen pal profile, and I felt better. Brio seems like a cool guy. These kids seem like cool kids.

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I told you about the letter over supper.

You became real still.

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“Are their names Sirius, Vega, Nova, Cassie, Orion, and Momo?” you asked.

I nodded.

“Do they have stars in their rooms?”

I didn’t know.

“I think they’re the ones,” you said. “They’re the ones who’ve been sending me the picture thoughts.”

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You didn’t talk much as you finished supper. And after you ate, you sat there for the longest time, with that inward look you get sometimes.

When I tucked you in, you said you wanted to sing, rather than having me continue reading Robinson Crusoe.

“The moon,
Can you see it?

“It’s the same one,
I can see it.

“I can see the moon at night
and sometimes in the day.
And you can see the same moon,
no matter what you say.

“And her sister moon,
The purple one,
Farther than the farthest sun.

“Can you see that,
Everyone?

“Like home,
Our sister. My sister,
Brother. Home.”

You were still singing under your breath when I tucked you in. I sat at the foot of the bed, while you hummed as you fell asleep.

The next morning, you woke up and jumped out of bed.

“I have sisters and brothers everywhere!” you said.

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You went to school with a spring in your step. While you were at school, I filled out my pen pal profile. I’m going to write to Brio.

Each day, son, you inspire me to be more like you.

Love,

Your pops

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Author’s note: My friend kkira555 of KK’s Sims Stories wrote Sirius’s letter. Thanks, Kira!