Wonder 57

It’s true what they say about healing and time. I made it through the day. Tanner came home from school. Then I made it through the next day, and the one after that, and the one after that, and pretty soon, when Tanner headed into school, I headed into the clinic. We rode the ferry together each morning.

Slowly, a steady routine, my cheerful, quirky son, and the persistent beauty of the sunlight on the bay every morning, every evening, bore through the grief.

My heart still aches. That pit called loss still opens up before me now and again, usually when I least expect it. But I’m no longer stone inside, and I can smile.

Tanner brought home a school project. It’s for extra credit. He’s such a smart kid, but he’s having a tough time at school. He can’t get his grade up over a C.


I don’t understand it. His teacher referred him to the counselor, who referred him to a psychologist, who gave him an IQ test. “His scores are off the charts,” the psychologist reported back. They enrolled him in the gifted program. He still kept bringing home Cs.

I’m not worried. I know life is more than a letter grade, and not all forms of intelligence fit into a classroom with desks arranged in little rows. I’ve been thinking of transferring him to the Open School in Windenburg, but he says he wants to stay in his school with his friends.

“Teacher says if I do good on this project I’ll get a good grade,” he said. “Will you help?”

Of course! Working on a project with my boy? What could be better!

We set it up in the meadow at the side of the house.

“It’s supposed to be a castle,” Tanner said.

“So,” I replied. “We are making a castle out of air!”


“No,” he said. “We’ve got stuff.”

I looked at the little jars of paint, the dowels, the stacks of styromfoam, the glue gun, and an adorable little vice. “All of this was in that box?”

He nodded.

“No wonder it was so heavy!”

“You know? I think I’ve got a circuit board. What if we made an electric draw-bridge that went up and down when you pushed a button?”

“Could we?” he asked. “That’d be so great!”


I brought out the stuff we needed.

“So, it should be the kind of thing that I can push the button even if I’m across the room. Can we do that?” he asked.


I thought we could.

“You’re the best dad!” he said.


I don’t know if it was the concentrating on getting the circuitry to work or seeing how happy and excited Tanner was, or just doing a project together in the sunny meadow. but I suddenly realized that I was happy. Genuinely, positively happy.


We had a blast. The first circuit board I rigged up exploded! We had clouds of instant paper mache dust.

“This is great!” Tanner said. “Can we do it again?”


I said that big explosions weren’t really historically accurate, and then Tanner started talking about big giant dragon farts, and, even though it was so stupid, I couldn’t stop laughing.


Eventually, as the sun was getting lower, we got down to the business of constructing the thing.

“OK,” Tanner said. “We gotta do good. Like really pay attention to every detail. No extra glue drips, OK? Like Super-Tastic-Builders!”


So that’s what we were, The Super-Tastic Construction Crew.

I’ve got to admit: the castle looked great when we finished, and the drawbridge really worked–no explosions!

Tanner said we should celebrate with a song. So we made one up on the spot, complete with a dance.


Super-Tastic One!

Super-Tastic Two!


Super-Tastic Me!

Super-Tastic You!


I’ll check the wind, and

you check the rain, and


And when we’re done, 

We’ll do it over again!

“And watch out for dragon farts!” Tanner said.


Oh, man. It feels great to laugh again, in a wide meadow, with the sun setting, and the mockingbird singing, and my boy joking.

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Author’s note: Oh, look! Wonder is back! For new readers who’ve come to this blog in the past year, this story follows Charlie Rocca Cups, a wonder child, now grown up. He’s recently adopted a son, Tanner. He’s also recently moved through a tough season of grief, as good friends, his aunt, his mom, and his father have passed on in a short span of time. And for readers who’ve been around longer, I hope you remember Charlie! It feels great for me–and for Charlie–to be rediscovering how bright life can be when grief’s shadows begin to recede.

Wonder 56

When it hits, it hits. Tia Berry, Mãe, and then Pai all passed on within a week of each other. I’ve seen that happen with patients before: all the elders in a generation pass within the same time period.

What’s left for the kids who are left behind?

For that’s how I feel, though I’m an adult and father myself: I feel like an abandoned kid.

If it weren’t for Tanner, I’d be alone in the world, no matter how many friends I have.


I’ve been trying to save my grieving for after Tanner’s gone to school.

When he’s home, I’m focused on him.


He’s been so sweet.

He told me the other day that we had something in common, only backwards.

“I started out an orphan, and now I got a family. You started out with a family, and now you’re an orphan. Same but different.”


“But not entirely the same,” I told him, “for I’ve still got a family. Same one you’ve got.”

“Yeah,” he said, and he smiled.


“It feels like peanut butter and jelly when you got a family, right, Dad?” He’d always called me Chaz before. I had to step into the kitchen for a moment to hold onto the counter, breathe, and let go of a few tears.


I came back to the living room with a cup of coffee, and I sat on the floor next to the drawing table. I leaned against the wall, hitched my knees up, and watched him work.

We could hear his crayon scratching on the paper, and he was humming a little tune.


“For sure this is a picture of a monster,” he said. “Think it’s scary? It’s scary. But it’s not scary like something that will eat you. It’s scary like something that you think you better not look at, or else, you know. Stone. You’re turned to stone.”


“Did you hear about Medusa and Perseus in school, Tanner?”

“Naw,” he replied. “Oh, I know all about Medusa. But this ain’t her. This is her sister Megaluna. She only comes to orphans. When it’s all dark, and then you think you better not look, then she comes. And orphan hearts go stony. But there’s a trick. You look anyway. Then she’s not scary, you’re heart stays soft, and when she goes away, there’s no monster anymore.”


After Tanner left for school, I found myself staring down my own Megaluna. It was too late. My heart was solid stone. I couldn’t even cry, and all I felt was a block inside where all my feelings should be rushing through me. I had a long day ahead while my boy was at school to try to find some way to slew this monster grief.


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Wonder 51


Since I’ve been working at the clinic, I’ve noticed that we get a bunch of regulars. Jeanette is one of them.

I’m not sure if she’s actually sick each time she comes, but I can’t figure out why else she would stop by. Surely, she has other things to do on a beautiful morning.

“Your heartbeat is regular,” I told her. “Your lungs sound clear. Your eyes are bright. Your complexion is good. I can’t find anything wrong with you.”

“Maybe I should stop in tomorrow on my lunch break,” she said. “Just in case any new symptoms develop. Are you working tomorrow?”

In the break room at lunch, I told my supervisor about her frequent visits.

“Benefit of the job,” he said, with a chuckle.

I have no idea what he was talking about.


Our research is going well. I logged in a few test results after lunch.

My boss was giving Brantley, the research project manager, a hard time.

“The grant deadline is in two weeks!” he shouted. “Have you even started the application?”

“I thought we agreed at our last staff meeting that you’d be handling the application,” Brantley said.


I felt relieved when my lab duties were over and I could return to the examining rooms where we talk in quiet voices.

A boy I’d treated a few weeks back was there.

“How’re you feeling, spud?” I asked him.


He had a sore throat and a slight fever.

“You’ve just got a virus,” I said. “We’ve got a good cure for that.”


“Will it hurt?” he asked.

“Not at all!” I replied. “You’ll feel great within a few hours, and you’ll be running around and driving your mom nuts.”

“I haven’t got a mom,” he replied.


“You don’t?” I asked.

“Naw,” he said. “I’m a morphin.”

“An orphan?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Who do you live with?” I asked.

“The other morphins at the Morphin Ridge.”

I gave him a child’s dose of remedy.


While he rested, I went out front to talk with the social worker who’d brought him in. I’d wanted to let her know that the boy would be just fine and to tell her that she could bring in any of the kids at the first sign of cold or flu. We ended up talking for nearly half an hour about Windenburg Kids’ Home and the children who lived there. Many were adopted fairly quickly, she explained. In fact, the boy I’d treated was scheduled to be moving in with a family just as soon as the final paperwork cleared. But there were some who never found homes.

Riding the ferry back, I started thinking about my house on the island. I had an extra room downstairs. I’d enjoyed living alone, but was that really what I wanted for all of my life? If there was someone out there who needed a home, and if I had extra room to spare…

I spent the rest of the ferry ride daydreaming.

I got a call that evening from my friend the waitress at the diner. She asked if I wanted to meet her at the bar.

“Bear-suits?” I asked.

She laughed. “No, it’s an extra-terrestrial conference,” she replied. “Interested?”

I wasn’t really, but I thought it would be fun to spend an evening with her, so I agreed to meet her there.

“Charlie,” she said when she saw me.

“Are you feeling OK?” I asked. “Your voice sounds kind of husky. You’re not coming down with something, are you?”

She laughed. “Never better,” she said.


We enjoyed a few drinks and a long conversation. I told her I’d just begun to think about adopting.

“Adopting?” she asked. “You mean, you’d be a single parent?”

I told her how I’d been raised by a single mom and my aunt and how my experience of family stemmed from the discovery minha mãe had made that it was love that made a family, not necessarily a mom and a dad bound by marriage.

My friend said something about an early shift and left abruptly. I decided to walk around to enjoy the warm night. I wanted to turn over my idea of adopting a child so I could look at it from all sides.

I ran into minha mãe.

“Man, this is perfect timing!” I told her. “You’re exactly the person I want to talk about this with!”


I explained my idea.

“There are so many kids that need homes,” I said. “I know that I can’t take them all, but even if I just take one, I’d make a difference, right?”

“Charlie,” she said, “I’ve always known you would be an amazing father. And I’ve also always had a hunch that you wouldn’t become one in the traditional way.”


“Really, Mãe?” I asked. “But what do you mean?”

“Charlie,” she said, “think about it. Have you ever been interested in a girl, I mean in any way other than as a friend?”

“Well, no,” I admitted. “But I’m not really interested in guys that way, either.”

“I know,” said Mãe. “And that’s fine. You’ve always been you. You love everyone, and everyone loves you, just maybe not in the flowers-and-candlelight kind of way. Or even in the quickie-in-the-closet type of way. I think it’s a beautiful thing, Charlie, your love of people. You will make a good father, and I think adoption is the perfect way for you to become one.”


“Thanks, Mãe,” I said. “It’s pretty sudden, but it’s the right decision, isn’t it? ”

She wrapped me in a big hug. “It is so much the right decision.”


“Now just get busy filling out the paperwork,” she said. “I hear the process can take a really long time, and I want to get to have a chance to meet my grandkid before it’s too late.”

I looked at her hard.

“Is there something you’re not telling me?” I asked.

“No, spud,” she replied. “Just being realistic.”


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Wonder 46


The clinic gave me a research day. I’d heard that some of the old volumes in the library discussed folk cures using mushrooms, and we were interested in seeing if what they found could offer any new directions for our work.

Jeanette Hairston, one of my friends from high school, was there, reading a romance novel.


“How’ve you been, Jeanette?” I asked.

“All right,” she replied. “I just got a job.”

“You did? That’s fantastic!”


“You don’t even know what kind of job it is,” she replied. “How do you know it’s fantastic?”


“What if I hated my job? What if I worked for some creep who bullied me or asked me to do things that were demeaning? What if I had to do stuff for my job that went against my principles? What if it were a job that made me feel like an objectified commodity? How can you know ‘it’s fantastic’ when you don’t even know what it is?”

“Uh, sorry,” I said.”Is it any of those things?”


“No,” she replied. “It’s actually a pretty decent job. It’s in business.”

“Oh,” I said. “Ok. That’s… that’s something?”


Jeanette’s lunch hour was over, and I took a few deep breaths after she headed back to her office. The next few hours raced by–I was discovering some really fascinating history of the uses of fungal compounds with porcine livestock.

The more I read about pork, the hungrier I got. As evening came, I decided to call it a day. Leaving the library, I ran into one of my patients from yesterday.

“You’re looking great!” I told the red-haired waitress. “How’re you feeling?”

She said she felt really relaxed and healthy.

“Usually, I feel a little wound up,” she said, “but ever since yesterday, I’ve just felt so calm.”

“That’s to be expected, actually,” I replied. “Reishi, which is one of the mushrooms in the compound, is known to calm anxiety.”


I headed across the courtyard to the café to grab a snack before catching the ferry.

Eva was there.

“Not now, Charlie,” she said, as I started to detail what I’d learned from my research. “I’m trying to forget the office!”

She introduced me to a few of her acquaintances, Cassandra Goth, whom I recognized as our hostess from the restaurant that Yuki took me to, and Sonia Burgos.


“I don’t mind hearing about your research,” Cassandra said. “I’m an amateur historian.”


While Cassandra and I were sharing trivia about ancient recipes for pork, Yuki walked in.

“Hey, Yuk,” I said.

“Save it,” she said back, looking really tense. I wished I’d had some reishi compound to give her right then.

Our research project manager came in, too.

“We aren’t talking about the project, are we, Cups?” he said.

“No! Certainly not!” I answered, though, truthfully, it was pretty much all I ever thought about or talked about these days.


It was a good reminder, though—there are millions of topics! There are as many topics of conversation as there are thoughts in people’s heads.

Luna arrived, and Malcolm Landgraab entertained us with stories about cars that got stuck in weird places: culverts, cul-de-sacs, blind alleys, wharfs, swamps. Some of the stories were so bizarre that even Yuki forgot her tension and began to chuckle, though Luna was not amused, and I was skeptical.


I nearly missed the last ferry. Thankfully, the research project manager found me dozing at a corner table and roused me in time to make the quick sprint down to the dock before the final whistle blew as the ferry pulled out into the bay.


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Wonder 42

I think I don’t understand women.

Having grown up with Tia Berry and Mãe, I always assumed that I knew all there was to know about women: how they think, what they feel, what makes them happy.

But what I learned from my aunt and mother doesn’t seem transferable to others.

I invited Sofia over Sunday morning.

“What do you want, Charlie?” she asked when she arrived. I felt confused: she looked sad, disappointed, a little hurt, and a little angry. In fact, her face reminded me of the way that Yuki looked when I met her at the restaurant the night before.

Was there some secret handshake I was missing? All these beautiful young women, and when I look in their faces, they’re looking at me like I forgot their birthday or something.


I tried the honest approach. “I just wanted to hang out with you!” I said. “I hadn’t seen you since that first day when I moved in, and I thought it might be fun to spend some time together.”

She stayed for about five minutes, and then she “had stuff to do.”

I changed out of my pjs and started working on a new novel. This one was about a lone traveler.


I’d finished the first draft of the first chapter when Pai called.

“Bring the ferry across the waters,” he said. “It is the night for the rapazes.”

That sounded like just what a needed: hanging out with the guys. As soon as I got there, Pai texted me: Hung up. Eva. Jade. No can make it.

Ah, well. I made a few new friends. After my recent social awkwardness with Yuki and Sofia, it felt great to be able to relax–no expectations!


While I was chatting at the bar with my new friends, a young woman stepped up to ask me if I wanted to join her in a game of darts. I haven’t played much darts, but it seemed like a fun idea.

“You’re really good at this. I can tell,” she said.

“Oh, I’ve hardly ever played!” I answered.

“No. I don’t believe it. You’ve got the moves.”


Darts turns out to be a lot of fun. I got engrossed measuring the angles and calculating the best trajectories.

I looked over at my new companion, and I noticed that she seemed to be favoring her right leg. She was holding her shoulders up stiffly, too.


“Is your back OK?” I asked. “Sciatica? Stiff lower back? Tight shoulders? You know, yoga’s really good for that. Downward facing dog, maybe a few sun salutations, and you can work out all that tension so you don’t have to favor your right leg so much.”

And then, she got that look. I still don’t know what it means or what I do to bring it on, but I’m getting pretty good at recognizing it.


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Wonder 41


Saturday started normal enough. Fruitcake for breakfast. It’s a favorite.

I’d finished the novel about meus avós the night before, so I sent it off to a prospective publisher.


Went for a quick dip.


And then, the day got weird.

Pai called to invite me to a club outing. I’ve been an honorary member of Partihaus since I was a kid, but I’d never actually been to any of the gatherings.

“I don’t  want you going while you’re a kid,” Mãe told me, on one of the few occasions when she lay down the law. And then when I was in high school, I was so busy with Paint! and working out and composing that I never seemed to have time for extra activities.

When Pai called on Saturday morning, I really didn’t have a reason to stay home. It felt like a rite of passage to meet Pai at his club.

“It is the club of me,” Pai said. “You are the son of me. Come! I will show you how the Rocca men have the good time! I have arranged for the special DJ to attend. She is like the sparkle on the ocean sea!”


I was surprised to see Mãe there when I arrived at the Narwhal Arms.

“I didn’t know you rejoined the club” I said.

“I didn’t,” she replied. “I just came here for the music. I hear this DJ is really something.”


I had so much to tell Mãe. She was really interested in the discoveries about the mushroom compounds, and she seemed so pleased to hear about the award.

“Of course you deserve it,” she told me. “The thing about awards is that they recognize qualities within a person. You don’t see it, Charlie, but you’ve got some pretty remarkable gifts and talents. Plus, you’ve got a good heart.”

While Mãe was talking, things suddenly got really awkward for me. On the other side of the dance floor, Pai and Eva were flirting–it wasn’t even subtle. It was right out there in front of everybody. I felt weird on about five accounts. First, Mãe was right there. Second, what was Pai doing? Third, Eva is my boss! Fourth, Mãe was right there! Fifth, everybody could see, including me!

Mãe noticed what was going on.

“Relax, spud,” she said. “This is Partihaus. I’m not oblivious. I knew the score when I joined the club twenty-one years ago, and I never asked your dad to change or to quit. I did tell you how you were conceived, didn’t I?”


It was too much. I thought about the novel I’d just sent to the publisher’s that morning, a sweet and traditional love story. Then I thought about where I came from. Which one was the lie? I was standing smack in the middle of cognitive dissonance.

I always knew that Pai‘s roommates–all three of them–were more than roommates to him. But I also knew that he and minha mãe were loving with each other, and he and I were best friends. We’d always been family, when he stopped by our house. I’d never seen this side of him before.

I didn’t even have the presence of mind to talk with the DJ when she finished her set.


I felt relieved when Yuki called to give me an excuse to bail.

“Hey, Chaz!” she said. “I heard you got a promo! Let’s go have dinner! Meet me at that new Llama place!”

Her voice sounded like she was laughing, so I figured she was teasing. My promotion wasn’t much, after all. I stopped back home to change, and I decided I’d wear something that showed I didn’t take myself too seriously.

“Charlie?” Yuki said when she saw me. “What’s with the glasses?”


She sounded a little sad, maybe a little disappointed–was she hurt?–when she said that.

I headed inside to get us a table.


When Yuki joined me, she’d changed into a little black dress. Oh, boy. I’d blown it, hadn’t I?


“You look really nice!” I told her. “I’ve never seen you dressed like a girl before.”


She started feeling like my good-friend Yuki while we were eating. I told her all about the mushroom discoveries I was making.

“They seriously devour virus cells?” she asked.

“They do!”


The food was interesting. Yuki didn’t eat her little chocolate tofu cubes. But she drank her wine. I ate whatever it was I ordered. It tasted unusual–not that great, actually, but I enjoyed the inventiveness of the dish.

I stopped by the kitchen on the way out to thank the chef for having prepared it.

“Interesting dish!” I said. “Thanks! I think I learned something new about food!”

“Seriously?” she replied. “No one’s ever thanked me for my creations before! And you seriously learned something? That’s exactly what we hope to achieve! Dining’s about so much more than just, you know, taste.”


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Wonder 36



I got a call from the gallery. They’d received requests for my artwork.

“We want to buy up all the canvases that the members of your club create, too,” said the gallery owner.

“You want Paint’s’ work?” I asked.


It turns out that a critic wrote a review of my work, “Wonder Child, Wonder Artist.” Somehow, the name recognition of Rocca, thanks to the fame of Pai and meu avô, generated excitement about my artwork, and through me and Tia Berry, the work of our club.

At the same time, I was ready for a day off from the health clinic. Even though I’d just started, I felt like I needed to sort things out. How did I feel about Western medicine, actually? Was working in the medical field really what I wanted? Maybe Tia Berry was right. And Mãe was definitely right that I’d been rushing things.

I called up Eva at the clinic and explained that I needed a few personal days to get situated.

I was hoping, too, to maybe get some furniture, especially if I could sell some paintings.

I called up the club members. “Come hang out at my place on the island!” I said. “Bring your yoga mats! Bring easels!”


It felt great to see my old friends at the cottage.

I cornered Tia Berry the first chance I got.

“You know that herbal remedy you make?” I asked her. “What do you put in it?”


“What’s with the sudden interest?” she replied.

I explained about how when Mãe had come to the clinic sick, I hadn’t been able to figure out what medicine could cure her, but we both knew that Berry’s herbal remedy would bring healing fast.

“I’m into healing,” I said. “I don’t want to fight or battle disease through synthetic chemicals. I want to heal through natural means.”

“You know,” Tia Berry said, “you’ve started the path of becoming a traditional doctor. You should follow through with it before veering off to other approaches.”

She headed downstairs, and I was left thinking over her words.


We painted all morning. I called the gallery owner back and let him know that it looked like we’d have about six or seven works to deliver that afternoon.


“Great!” he said. “I’ve got buyers already lined up!”

I found Tia Berry again.

“Ok,” I said. “I think I know what you mean. Learn the standard practices first, and then start introducing the alternative methods, right?”


“That’s what I’m thinking,” Tia Berry said. “How do you know what works best if you don’t know what all the options are? Learn your field, first, and then you can start introducing or developing other approaches.”

After everyone left, I ran the canvases over to the island gallery, used my share of the profits to pick up a few cheap items of furniture from the second-hand store, and paid a fisherman to haul the  pieces in his truck back to the cottage.

In the soft evening light, I set up another canvas. I was painting this one to hang in the health clinic. As I painted I focused all my feelings into the canvas–I want to be able to look at this painting and remember the resolve I felt that evening.


It’s a long path I’m on. I’m just at the beginning stages of learning how to be a doctor. I’ve got so much to learn. And then, once I learn that, I want to learn more, finding ways to integrate other more natural and holistic approaches to healing.

I think my life would have been more simple if I’d become a professional musician, or if I’d let my painting career be my main focus.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted to settle for simple. I’ve cared more about doing what helps most. I just hope I’ve got what it takes to succeed in a field that I might not have much aptitude for. Desire, I was learning, doesn’t make talent.


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Charlie’s Final Wonderchild Scorecard


The Score

Note: Charlie’s score is unofficial. I made the mistake of forgetting to age Mae and Berry to adults when I began the challenge; they began as young adults: thus, the challenge doesn’t meet the rules. Having the two caregivers start at the young adult stage offers an advantage. So, consider this an unofficial score!

Rules for scoring are found at Pinstar’s Official Wonder Child page.

Days to childhood after earing an  A – 3 for 3 points
Days to young adulthood after earning an A in high school – 11 for 11 points
Silver childhood birthday party – 0 points
Gold young adult birthday party – 5 points

Traits: – 34 for 340 points

  1. Good
  2. Music Lover
  3. Glutton
  4. Physically Gifted
  5. Night Owl
  6. Creatively Gifted
  7. Long Lived
  8. Incredibly Friendly
  9. Gym Rat
  10. Socially Gifted
  11. Mentor
  12. Expressionistic
  13. Speed Cleaner
  14. Free Services
  15. Mentally Gifted
  16. Observant
  17. Beguiling
  18. Natural Leader
  19. Marketable
  20. Speed Reader
  21. Frugal
  22. Piper
  23. Shameless
  24. Savant
  25. Always Welcome
  26. Entrepreneurial
  27. Steel Bladder
  28. Beloved
  29. Independent
  30. Creative Visionary
  31. Great Storyteller
  32. Morning Sim
  33. Stoves and Grills Master
  34. Gregarious

Skills (1 point for each skill, plus 3 bonus points for every maxed skill) – 143 points
Charisma 10 + 3
Comedy 3
Cooking 6
Dancing 1
Fishing 2
Fitness 10 + 3
Gardening 1
Gourmet Cooking 3
Handiness 2
Herbalism 2
Logic 7
Painting 10 + 3
Photography 1
Piano 4
Programming 2
Video Gaming 3
Violin 10 + 3
Wellness 2
Social – 10  + 3
Mental  – 10  + 3
Creative  – 10 + 3
Physical – 10 + 3

Skill points: 143
Traits: 340
Grade Points: 14
Birthday Party: 5
Final Total Score: 502

My Response

I’m so pleased with this score! Last time I played, in November 2014, I earned 327 points. Granted, it was much harder to complete aspirations (adult and child aspirations) before the December 2014 patch. I had set my goal for this challenge to have a higher score. I was hoping to beat 420. In review, I think of the ways I could have earned more points, but all in all, I’m really happy with this score–and I’m even more pleased with Mae, Berry, Charlie, their friends and family, and the way that this game and story is developing.


The Strategy

The strategy for earning a high score rested on a few leveraged points:

  1. The child super-skilling trick
  2. No sleep for the Wonder Child (thanks to Zzz juice)
  3. Aspiration-switching to facilitate the completion of multiple aspirations

The Child Super-Skilling Trick

JordanNicoleJJ and I developed this technique while playing legacies. Think of it as an Easter-egg of multi-skilling. It rests on the bonus of a child being able to quickly max a second skill while completing another skill through a computer activity. Specifically, once a child has gained Level 9 Mental Skill,  playing Arithmetic Attack will allow the child to rapidly max Physical Skill at the same time as increasing Mental Skill. Then, playing Keyboard Commander once the child has reached Level 9 Physical Skill will allow the child to rapidly max Creative Skill while simultaneously increasing Physical Skill.

The trick isn’t 100% guaranteed to work immediately, or (possibly) even every time. Sometimes, the games (Arithmetic Attack and Keyboard Commander) don’t work: in that case, try Research on Simpedia. It will often work. When playing Charlie, the simul-skill of Mental and Physical worked great–but the Physical/Creative didn’t work at first. In the interim, I played my SimKids in New World Symphony. One of the twins was able to simul-skill both pairs quickly and easily. The other ran into the same issue as Charlie: Physical/Creative wouldn’t simul-skill. Since that’s an aging off game, I had lots of time to experiment. I played with using Research on Simpedia, trying multiple times, and eventually, it seemed that if I had the child in the right mood, the simul-skill worked. When I returned to Charlie, I had him browse art on the web until he was inspired, and then the simul-skill worked perfectly. So, if you get stuck with simul-skilling, experiment with different moods: try energetic, if you need to rapidly skill the physical. Try inspired, if you need to rapidly skill the creative. If it doesn’t work the first time, just keep experimenting. It’s worth it! With this technique, Charlie was able to max these three childhood skills within three days, and maxing social skill seems to happen easily through interactions with friends and family, especially if you choose the social interactions that have the mouth icon (the social skill icon).

Here’s the summary of the Child Super-Skilling Trick:

1. Have a child reach level 9 mental.
2. Have the child play Arithmetic Attack to earn mental skill while simultaneously earning physical.
3. Have the child play Keyboard Commander to max physical while simultaneously maxing creative.

Remember: if the games don’t work, try Research Simpedia.

Living on Zzzz Juice

This is a common strategy for Wonder Children. I used it in my legacy, too.  When the child doesn’t sleep, all sorts of time opens up for skilling and completing aspirations. The two caregivers become important in providing the aspiration points to purchase Zzz juice–save the child’s aspiration points for his or her reward traits!

Aspiration Switching

The first time I played the Wonder Child Challenge (and, of course, in the legacy), I had the child complete one aspiration before working on the next. It’s much more strategic to switch often, knocking off milestones in the most efficient way.

I also chose adult aspirations that I find to be easy: Friend of the World; Leader of the Pack; Body Builder; Musical Protege; and Artistic Visionary (or whatever the painting one is called). Within Charlie’s first day as a teen, he was able to complete all except the Level 10 Charisma milestone of Friend of the World. Once the “Incredibly Friendly” reward trait is purchased (which was the first trait purchased for Charlie), making friends is quick and easy.

Leader of the Pack was also a very easy aspiration.

For Charlie, who reached Level 9 violin skill as child, and had already begun three compositions, completing Musical Protege was easy–this was the first adult aspiration he completed.

I was a little worried about Body Builder–in the past, it had taken a while for the Sim to achieve maximum fitness. But Charlie achieved that very quickly, while he was still at Level 8 Fitness. I thank Paolo’s good genes!

Painting was a little tricky–it took a lot of canvases before Charlie completed enough masterpieces! Because Charlie has the “Music Lover” trait, I had him listen to music while he painted, and so he kept his fun level up throughout.

Other Tips

Mentors help a lot! The quickest way to gain fitness skill is by heading to the gym and having a trainer mentor. If I play this again, I’ll have one of the adults master the violin, so that she can mentor the child.

Taking advantage of the charisma social interactions (those with the sunglasses icon) raises the charisma skill much faster than other socials.

Don’t worry about sending the child to school once the A is earned! (I learned this tip from AkramA.) Use vacation, sick, and excuse days! The time is much better spent gaining skills and working on aspirations. Once the student has used up excused absences, then consider sending them to school so the grade doesn’t drop–you will have some grace days before losing that A!

How I could have earned more points

I had forgotten about the points earned for every day before the birthday after the A grade was achieved when Charlie was a child. So I lost about five or six points there. There may have been some compensation through gaining more skills and aspiration points, but next time, I’ll wait and use vacation days after the A is earned. There’s plenty of time to earn the A first and still complete all four childhood aspirations!

I don’t know why I wasn’t able to earn the gold medal party for Charlie’s first birthday party! It may have to do with the household still being fairly new. I remember in the legacy that the first gen had a tough time with parties, and the more established the family became, the easier the parties were.

I ended the game with 2,500 aspiration points that I wasn’t able to spend! Charlie had already bought all the rewards for that amount or less. I tried to gain 3,000 so we could get one more trait, but I ran out of time! If I were to play again, I’d try to calculate the final aspiration points a bit better.


The Reflections

This has been so fun, so rewarding, and so surprising! I love Mae and Berry, and they were amazing care-givers. It worked really well not to have them have jobs: they earned plenty of money through painting and writing, and having them at home allowed them to stay happy, keep the home functioning, and earn lots of aspiration points for Charlie’s Zzz juice. It worked out great!

I also really enjoyed the story that developed as I got to know Mae, Berry, and Charlie. Charlie is the biggest surprise. When he was a kid, I thought he might fit the traditional gender stereotypes for a boy. I expected him to be into sports, to be a little bit macho, and to be active. I was looking forward to writing a character very different from my usual character types.

Somehow, Charlie developed into this type that seems to be in most of my games and stories: Charlie become very sensitive, very thoughtful, rather religious or spiritual, and quite esoteric! How did that happen? I did not intend that. But Charlie could easily be a Bough!

I have an idea that Sims are shaped through game-play. When I play Charlie so that he develops himself to the height of his abilities, so that he is considerate, kind, thoughtful, respectful, funny, and caring, so that he spends hours playing music and painting, then he develops intelligence, emotional sensitivity, and, perhaps, digital awareness. He becomes amazing.

At the point we’re at now in the game, I am discovering who Charlie is, who he has become. I’m learning from him.

Where do we go from here?

The game and story will continue in the format of “A Day in The Life.” As we’ve done so far, each of Charlie’s days will be a chapter. We’ll still hear from Mae and Berry now and then. I’ll be giving Charlie more autonomy: Wonder children are kept pretty busy and pretty player-directed, and now he’ll get more free time to decide for himself what he wants to do. We’ll be watching and responding to his whims, also. The big life-choices will be left up to him. I’m excited to see what the rest of his digital life will be like!


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