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Children (or "Simkids")

You know the drill about organising parties. Reminder a few days before. Reminder on the day assuming you have not been paying attention. Pick a time and style and optionally a different place. Invite friends and neighbours. Cake. Light the Candles. Cheering. Singing "For he/she's a jolly good simmie" if they could. Blow. Transformation. Ta-da, now you've got a simkid. You don't even need to have a party. They will stop what they are doing sometime during the day, wave a rattle and transform themselves autonomously. That's what Bronwen and Jonah did when they became adults.

Anyway, the childhood transition is a lot like it was in TS2. This time, you are told about whether you have done a good enough job bringing them up during their - for want of a better word - toddlerhood. If you have, you get to pick their next trait but if you haven't, the trait gets picked automatically. In this case, Bronwen and Jonah had done a good enough job and Melody chose to be "Ambitious".

For want of another better word, they are now simkids. Life as a simkid is getting closer to life as a normal sim in TS3 - if there is such a thing as a "normal sim" - but with that childhood twist to it.

Lifestage Duration - 7 days

"Let's go to school" - Thankfully, our sims no longer get to aspire to invite the creepy headmaster over for dinner in order to schmooze their away around him to try and get their precious offspring into his unseen private school. Now there is just one school and level of education. Even if someone edits the town and adds another, it will not offer anything unique.

The school bus still turns up an hour before school begins at 9am and children have to stay in school until 3pm.

The school has a playground and some benches. Bronwen did return the one she stole but apparently it has not been replaced. Apart from those, the school itself is mainly a "rabbit hole" and we do not see what goes on in there. Like those sims who work, children get to decide the tone at how they are going to behave at school. These choices are Normal Effort, Work Hard, Slack Off, Meet New Friends and Talk to Friends. Also, instead of career levels, there are academic grades to reach. A simkid's school performance is affected by their mood and their homework quality.

The Honour Roll - I'm English so I'm spelling it properly. This is often a wish for a simkid or their parents. It involves maintaining an A-Grade for three consecutive schooldays. If a simkid has done their homework and is in a good mood, this is not too hard. However, if there is a transition from being a simkid to a simteen during this stage, it resets to Day 1. So annoying. There is a good moodlet for having accomplished it, though.

Homework - Yes, this is alive and well in the world of The Sims 3 and completing and handing in homework is critical in order to getting onto that Honour Roll and avoiding having to stay back after school to do it. Our simkids now tend to keep their homework on them at all times. No longer are we looking at every table in the house, in the basement, in the attic or the garden shed to find where they dropped their homework off when they got home. Simkids are more than likely to get their homework out of the way as soon as possible and in some cases seem to do it autonomously. "Playability versus Realism" comes to mind again. If my memory serves me correctly, I was always doing my homework at the last minute, sometimes even on the bus into school, never the moment that I got home.

"I want to do my homework at Paul's house" - For us Brits, we know what else our simkid might want to do there. Anyway, I am digressing. Whatever the simfriend's name is, you may get a message from your simkid asking to go home with a friend after school. On the other hand, you may also be informed that your simkid is bringing a schoolfriend home for dinner. This is a good way to socialise and a start to those relationships that may come in useful later on in life. Also, they can do their homework together. If it gets too late, a note comes up about it being close to curfew and it might be an idea to send your simkid straight home.

Curfew - From 10pm to 6am, children need to be home or at the very least be seen to be on their way there. If they are not in the company of an adult and on the way home after that time, they may be picked up by the police and brought home. It saves on a cycle journey, which is a good thing.

Travel - Sims at this lifestage do not call taxis. Whether you have bought them one or not, they travel medium and long distances by bicycle. Bicycles in TS3 come in two sizes. Adult and child. As they get one anyway, it does beg the question "Why even bother buying a child's bike?" Although they might not be the quickest means of getting from Point A to Point B, this is a welcome addition to the game and they add more atmosphere.

When the Folks are Away ...

Babies, toddlers and children cannot look after themselves and leaving them "home alone" is tantamount to saying that you are an uncaring parent and you do not deserve to have children. Social services will be over to take the children away, often never to be seen again. Therefore, if your parent sims are going out to work, get on the phone and hire a babysitter, just to make sure that someone is there to look after the infants.

The babysitters are teenagers and they charge a flat rate of ยง75. The grey-haired old maids of The Sims 2 are no more, although as TS2 is set about 50 years on, these old dears might be the elderly versions of some of these teens you see now. These babysitters, unlike their elderly counterparts from the future, however, do not hang around at all when one of the household adults gets back. They are running out of the door like a shot even before that adult gets into the house.

Note - Children and teenagers do not seem to be able to engage in eye-to-eye conversations. In this case, Melody is having a conversation with Ty Jarrett, who is the appointed babysitter for the day. Ty talks over her head and Melody in return talks to his navel while he just gazes into mid-air and nods. In my opinion, although not a massive problem, I think this does show a bit of laxness in programming.

The Miles Post - Melody's Childhood, Jonah's Jogging & Bronwen's Choice

When Melody became a child, she suddenly had a rush of wishes to learn how to fish, which I found unusual to say the least. Nevertheless, she worked hard at school, kept up with her homework and attendances and managed to get onto the honour roll. If her homework was not done by the school day started, like any other kid, she would have been given the option to stay after school and finish it but she managed to keep ahead. Due to her interest in fishing, she sometimes even left home well ahead of the schoolbus to get in some fishing in Central Park. In these childhood days, she managed to catch three minnows and a goldfish.

All in all, this looked good for when Melody became a teen.

Jonah had become a starter with the team and spending a lot of time jogging and exercising in order to keep fit. Despite having a lot of wishes for Melody, his obsession with his career and then the garden meant that he did not have much time to spend with Melody herself. His relationship with Bronwen was even becoming strained. Bronwen at this time had chosen the rock star branch of the music career instead of symphonic music. She was now a lyricist and making quite a good income. She had a good relationship with Melody but had let a lot of friendships suffer. She spent the rest of her time practising the guitar and talking to her reflection in the mirror.

Written at 03:14 on Tuesday 23 June 2009 by Andy.

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