Wonder 33



“Don’t think of it as an end,” Charlie said when I gave him his birthday hug that morning.

“I know, I know!” I replied. “‘Every new beginning,’ right?”

‘What we call the beginning is often the end,’” he quoted. “‘And to make an end is to make a beginning./The end is where we start from.’

“You’ve been reading Eliot!” I exclaimed.

“I have,” he admitted. “But I didn’t understand it.”

I continued where he’d left off:

‘And every phrase
And sentence that is right… Yada, yada…
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.’

He completed the stanza: “‘And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.’

“It’s so fitting, so true,” I said.

He would be moving the next day, to the stone cottage on the island, beside the “sea’s throat.” Paolo’s parents, Charlie’s avós, had left him their home after they passed.

I wanted to tell him not to rush–to wait and stay. To live here with us while his career got underway. But I remembered. I remembered how Berry and I had felt, eighteen years before, when we had our fresh inheritance and dreams bursting the seams of every pocket and purse.

I’m glad that Charlie doesn’t yet understand Eliot’s Four Quartets. It takes a lifetime of choices and loss to understand those words of hope and sorrow. One day, he’ll be an old man, sitting perhaps on the balcony of the old stone cottage, looking out over the sea, and with an old man’s wisdom and fulness, he will know what it means when Eliot writes,

We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.

Oh, but this is to be a happy day! A celebration! Why am I so mournful?

Berry wrapped our boy in a hug, and I felt all my pieces come back together. The island isn’t so far! And a beginning! Who can begrudge a boy a beginning, the start of an adventure?


Charlie seems full of excitement. He’d inherited his avô‘s woodworking set, too, and Paolo had delivered it to our place. Charlie spent the morning crafting a sculpture of a horse. He seemed so delighted as the shape took form.


Of course the sink broke again. When have we ever thrown a party and not spent the afternoon fixing the plumbing? But before Berry could get to it, Charlie stepped in and repaired the leak.

“I’m leaving you two in a top-notch home,” he said. “Better than new!”


I turned around, and it was evening already. Our home filled with guests. Paola and I ducked into the bedroom for a few moments alone together, and when we emerged, the party horns were blowing, and Charlie’s friends were singing.


We moved in an impromptu circle around him, each one of us wishing Charlie happy birthday, congratulating him, bestowing him luck.

I saw the crowd there–each person, someone who counted Charlie among their closest friends. Berry and I are such loners. Even though I have a world of friends, I still think of myself, primarily, as alone, someone separate from the crowd, someone, perhaps, not capable of being fully understood by any save Berry and my boy.

But here is Charlie. The center of a circle of benevolence that revolves around him.


That, perhaps, is his greatest success–even more than the A grades. Even better than his accomplishments. Maybe even more than his music and his art. Friendship. To think that he has already touched the lives of so many.


His friends from school were the last to leave. I watched Miranda, drawn to him by those invisible lines that we women feel when we fall in love. She’s a good person, a strong and smart woman. When I see how she lights up whenever he looks her way, I feel a mom’s gratitude that my boy could be loved by a true heart. I just hope that he discovers a way to reciprocate before she falls any deeper.


Beryl and I were beat. When Charlie offered to clean up, we didn’t put up a fuss. “Tomorrow, you’ll have to wash your own dishes!” he said.

He has no idea what a heart-breaker he is.


I glanced out the window when I got up for a drink of water. Charlie sat at the table with a slim volume of Four Quartets.


I wondered if he’d reached those haunting lines near the poem’s end:

And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)

Who could think twenty minutes in a closet with a retired player of futebol could result in such a miracle that changed everything?

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Wonder 32



When I met Miranda at the Blue Velvet, she seemed distant. Wistful.

We’d decided to ditch class after algebra. It was our next-to-last day of school. I finally ran out of sick days, vacation days, and excuse days, so I went to class. I was enjoying the morning lectures. Then after algebra, Miranda stopped me in the hall.

“Let’s take off,” she said.

“I’m all out of excuses!” I replied.

“Does it matter?” she asked. We talked it over. My grades were cinched–A’s in every class. Miranda was pulling A’s, too.

“Besides,” she continued, “you aren’t coming to school tomorrow, are you?”

I wasn’t. It was my birthday and my day of graduating from the program. I was planning to stay home, finish up a few projects, help out around the house, and get ready for the party. Miranda was invited.

“It’s our last chance to ditch,” she pleaded.”Let’s do it!”

So we did. I was glad. But when I saw how thoughtful and sad she looked, I started to think maybe she was having second thoughts.

“Glad we came?” I asked her. “It beats The Vast and Endless Tiresome History of Policies and Politicians, doesn’t it?”

She giggled. We had crazy names for all our classes, but our name for world history was the best.


“Remember when we first met?” I asked her.

“I do,” she said. Was she blushing?

“That was so fun!” I said. “Me and Jake the Gardener were playing chess and you came right up and pointed out that it was mate in five.”

“I didn’t want you to fall into the trap,” she said.


“I knew then you’d be one of my best friends for life!” I said. I thought it would make her happy to hear that. I mean, here we are, getting ready to graduate, and I wanted her to know that our friendship would outlast that. It started before we were in school, and it would continue after.

But when she heard me say that, her smile froze, and she took a few steps back, stretching the distance between us.


I thought we had a great time. We never made it into the Blue Velvet. We stood out front and talked all afternoon.

While I was painting that evening, I contemplated friendship. My friends are diverse: Jake the Gardener, Hugo Villareal, Yuki, Max V. Next to my family, Miranda’s probably my best friend. She has a lot of qualities that I like–she loves sports, she’s cheerful. I can talk to her about all my ideas, and she really listens. She never talks about herself much, but I guess some people are like that.


I’ve always enjoyed having friends, but at the same time, I don’t really feel like I need them. If I need to talk to somebody, I’ll talk to somebody, and it doesn’t matter to me so much if it’s the barista at the neighborhood espresso house or if it’s Max or my tia. Everybody is interesting. Everybody is fun to talk to.


My whole life, I’ve been encouraged to be friendly with everybody and depend on nobody–except myself.

That’s the example that Tia Berry and Mãe set. They depend on each other, sure, but it’s almost like they’re two halves of one person–a sister team. I always felt it was the two sisters and me. They gave me so much independence growing up that now that I’m at a place where I can take care of myself, I feel that I’m a unit of one, complete and whole in me.


Tomorrow, I’ll grow up for good. I’ll graduate from school, I’ll finish the program, I’ll take this independence out into the world and see what I can do with it. I wonder who I’ll take with me.


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Charlie’s Childhood Score Chart


I’m fairly happy with Wonder Child score of 165 that Charlie, Mae, Berry, and I earned for Charlie’s childhood, and we’ll see how many more points we can earn over his next fourteen teen days.

I can easily identify ten points that we missed out on: I’d forgotten that we earned points f0r every day after the child earns an A in school, and so, because I waited several days to send Charlie to school, we earned three instead of eight points in this category. (Emma, my previous Wonder Child, earned eight grade-related points.)

We also didn’t earn the five gold-medal birthday party points. I’m not sure what it is with Wonder Child birthday parties: Emma and I never scored gold medal birthdays. In my other Sim games,  we nearly always have gold medal birthdays!

I was really happy with the way the skilling trick worked, even though the Keyboard Commander/Creative trick didn’t work at first. It did eventually, so I learned a lot, and that makes it worth it!

Because the super skilling trick worked so well, the aspirations were a breeze to complete–too bad we don’t earn bonuses when they’re completed days before birthday.

I was also happy with the order in which I chose the bonus traits. I used to always purchase Steel Bladder as soon as possible, since it saves so much time. But Incredibly Friendly makes the best first purchase, I feel, because it makes completing the Social Butterfly aspiration a breeze. Friends are made at the introduction or within a few interactions.

Morning Sim and Night Owl are also good investments, as they speed up the skilling and provide positive moodlets. (We’ve purchased Night Owl, but since Charlie will need to go to school for his first few days as a teen, we haven’t yet bought Morning Sim.)

I’m super happy that I chose the glutton trait for Charlie: He learns fast! Most of the other glutton children that I’ve played (Sugar Maple, onezero, and Redbud) were also fast learners. I don’t recall that Ironwood, the first glutton I played, learned all that quickly, but back then I hadn’t yet discovered what a great trait glutton is. (I was thinking more Seven Deadly Sins than Zest for Life back then.) Two of the key advantages with a glutton are that they get good moodlets when they drink Zzz-juice, and they eat so quickly that dining doesn’t take much time away from skilling.

And there’s something about a glutton’s zest that is truly delightful! Perfect for a Wonder Child.

Here’s the breakdown for Charlie’s points (Scoring is found at Pinstar’s Official Wonder Child page):

Days to childhood after earing an  A – 3 for 3 points
Silver birthday party – 0 points
Aspirations – 4 for 4 points

Traits: – 9 for 90 points
Creatively Gifted
Physically Gifted
Socially Gifted
Mentally Gifted
Night Owl
Steel Bladder
Incredibly Friendly

Skills (1 point for each skill, plus 3 bonus points for every maxed skill) – 72 points
Charisma – 4
Logic – 7
Piano – 2
Video Gaming – 3
Violin – 9
Social – 10 + 3
Mental – 10 + 3
Creative – 10 + 3
Physical – 10 + 3

Skill points: 72
Traits: 90
Grade Points: 3
Birthday Party: 0
Total: 165


So, I could have done better, but overall, we did ok.

And as for Charlie, what a cool Sim he is! Can’t wait to get to know him better as a teen!


Oh! And on the silly news front: Charlie got a call from his dad the day before his birthday asking if he wanted to join Partihaus. We said yes! 😀

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Wonder: Notes on Skilling and Strategies


After eight days of childhood, Charlie is making great progress towards the Wonder Child goals. He’s completed three childhood aspirations: all that’s left will be for him to complete Whiz Kid, which requires the availability of new homework so he can “complete homework while focused” twice and the earning of an A. With five days of school, he should be able to do this. Of course, I’d like him to be able to earn the A more quickly so that he can take vacation days and skill.

I neglected to review the rules until now, and I had forgotten about this one:

  • As a child, the moment the Wonder Child becomes an “A” Student in school, see how many days they have until aging up into a teen. You gain a number of points equal to the number of days left as long as you remain an “A” Student (for example if your child becomes an “A” student and has 5 days left until becoming a teen, you get 5 points). If they are demoted back to a B student during childhood these bonus points are lost. These points become permanent when the Wonder Child becomes a teen if they ended childhood as an “A” student.

If I’d remembered this, I might have sent Charlie to school sooner. This might turn out to be a wash, though, because by staying home, he was able to max childhood skills more quickly, and thus earn logic, violin, fitness, and charisma skills. It’s possible these will make up for the few extra days it will take for him to earn the day due to his three-day vacation at the beginning of childhood.

The super-skill strategy worked fairly well, and I learned more about it, so even the time when it seemed not to work provided me with useful information.

In case you’re not familiar with this strategy, here’s an overview:

  1. Have the child play chess to reach one mental skill point.
  2. Once one mental skill point is achieved, have the child build mental skill in any way to reach level 9 mental. (I usually have the child play Arithmetic Attack, as it provides fun and children will not cancel the action once they start.)
  3. At level 9 mental, have the child play Arithmetic Attack. If super-skilling is working correctly, the child will simultaneously quickly gain physical skill, maxing physical before level 10 mental is reached. If this doesn’t happen through playing Arithmetic Attack, then switch to Research Simpedia, and the child should super-skill physical while researching.
  4. Once physical is at level 9 or maxed, have the child play Keyboard Commander. If the super-skilling is working, then the child will max creative very quickly.

Arithmetic Attack and Research Simpedia worked like charms to provide the super-skilling of physical once Charlie reached level 9 mental. As a result, before his second day as a child was over, he’d maxed mental and physical.

We weren’t so luck with Keyboard Commander. At first, it didn’t work to give us the super-skilling of creative. I tried various things: Research Simpedia, Browse Art. Nothing seemed to work. Then, when I was playing with Florinda and Sparkroot Tea in another save, I discovered that while the creative super-skill didn’t work for one of them, it did for the other. This led me to experiment, and I discovered that if the super-skill doesn’t work at first, just keep trying. For it did eventually work. It’s possible that the chances of it working are increased if the child is “inspired,” so Browsing Art might be a helpful way to kick start it. But it’s also possible that simply taking a break and then coming back at it will also work. At any rate, we were eventually able to get Keyboard Commander to super-skill creative, so Charlie had maxed Mental, Physical, and Creative by the end of his fourth day as a child.

Social skill is very easy to max: just choose those social interactions with the social skill icon (the mouth with the speech bubble): talk about school, pop culture reference, and goof-off. Goof-off can have negative relationship consequences if the child goofs off with a Sim that he or he doesn’t have a good relationship with, but Charlie was able to goof-off with his mom and it increased their relationship.

Heading into Charlie’s first weekend as a child, he’d maxed all four childhood skills. By the end of Sunday, he’d completed all three aspirations save for Whiz Kid.

One advantage to maxing childhood skills early is that the child then gains adult skill while engaging in activities: once creative is mastered, playing the violin will garner violin skill points. Swimming will garner fitness points. Chess will gain logic points. Social interactions will gain charisma. For a wonder child, this is useful!

With the aspirations, I switch between them frequently. This allows Charlie to make progress with the activities he’s currently engaging in. I plan to try this technique with adult aspirations, too, once he’s a teen. For example, Friend of the World requires that the Sim meet someone new in three locations: Body Builder requires working out at a gym, and the Painter one requires viewing art at a museum, so I can switch between these three so as to maximize the visits to the other lots.

The first reward trait I purchased for Charlie was “Incredibly Friendly.” I find this to be the most useful first trait to buy because it makes completing the social aspiration a breeze. With this trait, friends are often made after the first introduction or within a few friendly exchanges thereafter. This will also be useful when Charlie works on the Friend of the Word aspiration as a teen. (I anticipate that he should be able to complete this within a few days, depending on how long it takes him to max charisma.)

At this point, my goal is for Charlie as a teen to complete Friend of the World, the Club aspiration, Body Builder, the Painting, and possibly the music aspiration. Five aspirations is a lot, but he’ll have a good head start on the skills, so he might be able to do it! I’m going to be doing some serious strategizing as we get closer to that time.

I’m very glad that I chose glutton as Charlie’s childhood trait: that glutton zest just seems to provide an enthusiasm that makes Sims skill so fast! Plus, it takes less time to eat!


For the teen trait, I’m considering (at present) Outgoing, Creative, or Active. All three of these seem to fit who Charlie is, and they all three would provide benefits to completing aspirations. We’ll see what we end up choosing when we do the birthday spin!

It’s been really fun to approach this challenge a second time, especially since aspirations are so much easier than they were the first time I played this, in October-November 2014!

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