Being Human

October 2024


Kyle Centowski is 56; Willow Centowski is  54; Alex Centowski is 32; Jane Centowski is 35; Lily Jung is 33.
Alex and Jane's Children: Christopher is 9; Janie is 7; Kimberly is 5; Kathryn & Jacob are 4.



"A dog?!" said Willow.  She wasn't expecting to come home from work and find that they suddenly owned a dog.
"Granddad's dog," said Lily.
"One of them," Kyle confirmed.  "His name's Baron.  Jane brought him over this morning with the twins..."
"... and you're keeping him?"


Kyle nodded.  "He's old and he's lonely and he still misses Dad."  He stroked the dog's head.  "They don't have time to give him the attention he needs over there.  They barely have time for their children...".
'Over there' was the house across the street, Kyle's childhood home, occupied by his father until his death almost a year ago.  Their son Alex lived there now, with his wife and their five - soon to be six - children.



"Do you really think they're having that much trouble?"  Willow asked.
Kyle shrugged.  "I might be wrong.  Its hard to say when I only ever see them when they come over here... which isn't much, although that could just be because they've all got the 'flu..."
Willow didn't reply.  The 'flu could also be an excuse, and anyway it didn't pay to get into it, when she was even more angry than Kyle over their son's attitude.  Alex said that he wouldn't come between his his children and their grandfather, but that wasn't so easy to put into practice, when he'd also made it clear that he didn't want Kyle in his house.
"I know that Christopher's been getting into trouble," Kyle went on, "and the twins never seem happy at all.  That's part of why I took Baron... it might help them, one less thing demanding attention, and its really the only thing Alex would let me do."

So they kept the dog, and Kyle had a companion now, for his daily walks around the neighborhood.


However it soon became obvious that his father had done very little in the way of training...


... so Lily had to explain to the school that the dog really did eat her daughter's homework...


... and they wondered why they weren't getting any mail...


... and why Victoria suddenly wanted to sleep in her parents' bed...


... not that Kyle minded, really...


... which was lucky for Baron, because he probably would have been back across the street, had it been up to the rest of the family.

---

It wasn't as bad as it looked.  Alex was tired of telling everyone that.  But really, it wasn't.  Ok, sure, they were busy.  They really didn't give the twins the attention they should have... 


 And the older kids' grades weren't great...



...and Christopher was acting out... 



...but it was just a period they were going through.  You'd expect it, with the kind of year they'd had, he told himself.  In a few months, they'd all be over the flu, Jane wouldn't be pregnant, the twins would be in school...  it would get better.  So things really weren't as bad as they looked.

He'd taken the day off work, trying to kick this virus for once and for all...  


Not that he'd had much time to rest, not with Jane so tired and the kids always crying out for something.  He'd gotten used to coming home and finding Jane sleeping, the older kids amusing themselves... 


... the twins usually asleep too... although not necessarily in their beds... 



He could see how she found it all so difficult, especially pregnant and with this flu.  But it would get better.  Only a couple of months until the baby comes... it would get better.

He heard the horn of the school bus and looked out the window, hoping the kids hadn't bought any friends home from school today.  He just wasn't up to extra kids... hell, as much as he hated to admit it, he was barely up to his own...

As Christopher got off the bus, he pulled out a piece of paper.  Even from the upstairs window, Alex could see his face drop as she read it.  Then he screwed it up tightly and tried to stuff it in his pocket.


Curious, he met him at the front door.  "What's the letter about?"
"What letter?"  Christopher couldn't look his father in the eye.
"The letter you screwed up and stuffed in your pocket.  Come on, Christopher, I'm not in the mood for games."
Staring at his feet, the boy handed his father the crumpled letter.
"What the... ?" Alex glared at his son.  "Is this true?"
Christopher nodded silently.
"Why?!"


Christopher shrugged.
"Go to your room," Alex said angrily.
"But - "
"Just go!  I can't deal with this right now," Alex snapped.
Christopher pushed past his father and ran to his room.

----

"It would have been fine,"  Alex said, the next day.  "There wouldn't have been a problem if Christopher hadn't started acting up in class as well.  I don't know what to do with him sometimes.  He wrecked the girls' doll-house, and he killed all the flowers out the front of the house - "



"I noticed they were gone. " Willow said.
"Jane was so upset," Alex said.  "Granddad knew she wanted a nice garden so he was fixing it up... they were the last thing he planted... ".
"Have you thought about counselling for Christopher?"
"The school tried.  He wouldn't go. Then they - " He was cut off by a fit of coughing.

Willow and Lily looked at each other.  They both doubted very much that it would have been fine, Christopher or not.  But it was Christopher who had pushed the issue with the school, and now, thanks to the boy's bad behavior and the low grades all the kids were getting, the school was threatening to get Social Services involved.

If things didn't look bad enough, none of the kids had actually been back to school, since the letter came.  The coughing had gotten worse that evening, and by morning it was obvious they were just too sick.  They were sleeping now, as was Jane, a rare quiet moment in their house.

"I have an idea," Lily started tentatively.  "Take a look at this."  She handed her brother a brochure.
"Boarding school?" he asked, after a quick look.  "You think I should ship my kids away?"


"It's not shipping them away," Willow said.  "It's only in Redwood City.  They could be weekday boarders, come home every weekend... "
"Even if I wanted to do it, their grades aren't good enough for private school," Alex said.



"Steve is on the school board," Lily said.  "He could pull some strings, get them in on probation or something.  He said they've done it before..."
"You discussed my children with your ex-boyfriend?"
"Steve is Raine's father... he's practically family..."
"You still don't have any right to -  "
"Alex, she's only trying to help," Willow cut in, "and I'm glad she talked to him. I think this would be a good opportunity, for the kids and for you."
"No.  Both of you, no.  They're my children, I don't need anyone else to take care of them."
"But - "
"No!  The subject's closed."  He looked at his watch.  "Didn't you have to be home soon, anyway?"
Willow sighed, getting up.  "Ok.  And, yes, I do have to go.  They're delivering the new stove this afternoon."
"So, what happened to the old stove, anyway?" Alex asked.


Willow and Lily looked at each other.  Willow's face reddened. "Oh... nothing... it just broke.."
"Yeah... just... nothing..."  Lily added, also blushing.
Then they both hurried to the door.

----

Kyle tried to concentrate on the book, but his mind kept drifting back to Alex, and the conversation Willow had recounted to him.


In all honesty, Kyle had never really understood his son.  They were about as different as two men could be, Kyle thought.  Alex had a brilliant mind, consistently top of every class he ever took.  He majored in mathematics at college, and could probably have been running the college math department by now.  But instead, he'd surprised everyone by going into a career in gaming.

If Kyle had been confused or disappointed by his son's decision, he'd never said so.  It was as well that he hadn't... ten years later, Alex was one of the most renowned young game designers around, or so people told him.  Certainly he'd achieved a degree of financial freedom that Kyle and Willow could only have dreamed of, at his age.  A leading light... just like Kyle's father had been.  There they were, Orlando and Alex, both hugely successful in their individual fields.. and there was Kyle in between...

He gave himself a little shake.  He'd made things hard enough for himself, comparing himself to his father.  He didn't need to start comparing himself to his son, as well.
"What are you thinking about," Willow suddenly asked him.


"Nothing," he lied.  "I'm reading."
"No, you're not.  You've been on the same page for a half-hour.  Even Victoria reads faster than that."
He sighed.  "I was just thinking about Alex, and the kids... they're struggling over there, I'm working part-time, I'm home half the week... I could help, if he'd only let me... I mean, how long can he hold a grudge for?  I screwed up.  Fine.  I'm not denying it... I've apologized, what else can I do?"



Willow shook her head.  "It's not your fault," she said.  "It's like he needs someone else to blame for the whole mess he's got himself into... I just don't know how they let things get this bad in the first place...."
"It's just being human," said Kyle.  "You know... thinking you've got it right, figuring out how to make the best of it when you get it wrong... hoping people can forgive you for what happens in between... "
"... and that you can forgive yourself?"
"Yeah, that too," he said.

----

Willow had been working in Bluewater Village for over 20 years, but the drive still tired her, especially coming home.  She had been looking forward to a nice relaxing bath... until she got out of the car and saw Lily waiting for her at the door.
"What's wrong?"  She asked, before he daughter even had a chance to speak.  "Where is your father?"



"Dad's fine," Lily said.  "He's across the road at Alex's place, with the kids.  Mum, Alex had to take Jane into the hospital.  She almost lost the baby."
"Oh, no... is she - "
"She's ok," Lily said.  "So is the baby.  They just called.  They're coming back home soon."
"Back home...?  But... how long have they been gone?"
"They went this morning," Lily said.
"This morning!  Why didn't you call me?"


"Dad wouldn't let me.  He didn't want you driving home in a hurry when you were upset... "
"And you listened to him?  What if - "
"He had a point.  You know how dangerous that road can be, at the best of times..."
"Damn the road!" said Willow, as she turned and ran across the street to Alex's house.

----

It was late evening when Alex and Jane finally got back from the hospital.  "They say she needs to rest more until the baby's born," Alex told his parents.  "I'll have to take some time off work."


"I think you'd be taking time off anyway," Kyle said.  "You actually look worse than Jane."
"They wanted to admit him," Jane said, "but he wouldn't stay."
"You're not going to be able to manage the kids, if I'm in hospital" he said.  "How are you going to get any rest, with five kids, if I'm in hospital?"


"Neither of you are going to manage, in the state you're in." Willow said.  "Go to bed, and turn off the baby monitor.  We'll be here for the children."
"But - "


"Go!" Kyle said.  "We're staying.  You two just get some sleep."

---

It was surprisingly peaceful when Alex came down the stairs the next morning.  "Where are the other kids," he asked Willow.


"The girls are at school, but we kept Christopher home in bed," Willow said. "He's still not well enough."
"Did you sleep well?" Kyle asked Alex.
"I think you need to leave."
"Alex!" Willow put Kathryn down and glared at her son.
"It's ok... " Kyle said calmly, standing up.  "He's right, I should go."
"But - " Willow started.
"No, its ok," he said.  "I need to freshen up anyway."

"Was that necessary?"  Willow asked, when she was sure Kyle was gone.  "Was that really necessary?  He's apologized to you, over and over.  What do you want from him?"


"I told you both... I don't want him in my house."
"Funny, he was good enough for you yesterday, when you had no choice."
"Yeah, well sometimes when you have no choice, you do things you know you're going to really hate yourself for.  Speaking of which... "  Alex stared down at his hands.  "You'll be pleased to know that Jane and I talked.  We're going to do what you suggested - we're going to send the kids to boarding school."  He didn't look up.  "Choice doesn't even come into that any more, either."
"Alex, lots of parents send their children to boarding school - "
" - because they want to, not because they have to!  You know, whenever people would say things about us having a big family, I'd always say that there's nothing wrong with having lots of children... so long as you could look after them... ".  He laughed bitterly.
"You are looking after your children.  All your children, including the one still to come."


"I need to see if Lily can talk to Steve.  They should change school as soon as possible... "
"You want me to talk to her?"
He shook his head.  "I'll call her later. I guess I owe her an apology anyway."  He buried his head in his hands.  "God, Mum, how did I make such a mess of everything?"


She looked at him sadly, holding back everything she wanted to say.  It wouldn't help, not right now.  "You're just being human," was all she said.
----

Whoa, what a mess of a household!!  We were getting into some serious trouble, there.  Most of what happened in the post came from just playing Alex and Jane's family for three days and just barely avoiding multiple disasters, even in that short time.


Firstly, there was the dog... it was Orlando's dog, but with him gone, it had really low relationships with everyone in the family... I was afraid it would run away.  The highest relationship it had with any 'human' sim was with Kyle, so we gave it to him.  Kyle and the dog got on really well, but he really needs to put in some time training it - fast!


Then, the kids... there was barely time to meet all their needs, never mind their wants, and so everyone was only-just fed and cleaned, and permanently in some level of red aspiration... including the parents... Christopher's aspiration meter hit the bottom and he started wrecking stuff.  And I kept getting Social Worker warnings about all the kids' bad grades because they were too unhappy to do homework and the parents were too busy to teach them.


Around this time, I considered using this mod to make the older kids weekday boarders... I hadn't used that school type before, and my concern was that I only play each house 3 days a round (2 sim-years) on average... given that they're only kids for 6 sim-years, and are away five days a week, I could miss most of their childhood while they're at school.


Someone - I don't know if it was Christopher or Baron - knocked over the garbage can, they got roaches then they got the 'flu.  The only one who got sick enough for my illness/hospital roll was Alex. He only rolled a one, which was fortunate because almost immediately after he started thinking of gravestones, the threatened miscarriage warning message from Inteen/Hospital Mod came up for Jane.


That was when I realized that I'd have to send the kids away - if I didn't, they'd be taken by the Social Worker, or Jane would lose the baby, or someone would die from the flu, or all of the above... I wasn't kidding about them being in a mess!  I temporarily moved Kyle and Willow in with them, and we spent the weekend getting everyone happy and well.


I did think of a way around the thing of missing their childhood - I'll just use Insim to force the weekday to a Friday each time I play their house, so that they're home for one day at least of the play session.  If I have the other days to fulfill the little kids' wants, then it shouldn't be too bad having them all home one of the days, and their homework is 'done at school', too, so that won't be an issue.

6 comments:

  1. Good gracious, I thought it was all just storytelling, but to find out that it's actually gameplay that is so hard for the family. Wow.

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  2. Wow, what a mess this family is in! Amazing that it was all game play but I guess when disasters start piling up like that, it's not hard to get in this sort of a bind!

    Boarding school sounds like a good plan for the kids and your workaround so that you don't miss their childhood sounds good too.

    I was going to suggest showing the kids at boarding school and doing a separate update but then I thought about it for two seconds and realised how much WORK that would be! Building a school, setting it up, having teachers and students so the place didn't look like a ghost town. Gah. Your plan is much more sensible!

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  3. Apple, yeah, it was pretty much all gameplay... these guys have officially knocked Serdar and Brandi's combined family out of their place as most difficult household ever to play.

    Carla, piling up is a good way to put it, one disaster just led to another... really testing my resolve not to use motives cheats here!

    I actually have a private school in the city but its just a shell for exterior pictures... decorating it has been on my 'to do' list for some time and I don't know if that is going to change in the near future... so, yeah, easier just to throw in a few extra weekends :)

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  4. I LOVE the portrait in the back of the first picture, where Kyle is playing with the dog!
    I love the dog in the family, and the story you made around it!

    Wow, that family across the street really is busy with all their children and another one on the way!
    I'm glad you found a way to make them all 'happy' again!
    And I hope Kyle and Alex get over their differences too!

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  5. I agree with Tanja that portrait is great and so is the dog. I think he will be really good for Kyle in the long run.

    It's amazing how some house and play sessions can just be hectic while others are so easy. I really hop Alex and Jane can keep it together with all those young children around.

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  6. Tanja, the portrait was from Kyla's wedding... I took lots of family pictures... there are some more on the wall of Kyla's house (or there will be, when we finish repainting them in the new hood :) ).

    That dog has always had a story around him... lol... Orlando had a little dog for years, and then one play session at my owned business pet shop, he was browsing a pet bin and he bought something.

    The next time I played his house, a popup came up saying someone from the family bought a pet and do we want to keep it? He was browsing a bin with a cat in it, so I figured it was a cat... but, no, apparently the game doesn't work that way...we got this big, old, unruly dog!

    Oasis, yeah, really hectic game session! Hopefully the boarding school thing will solve the problems, my main aim right now is to keep the two toddlers happy so that they grow up well next round...

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Thanks for reading and commenting!