Raising a digital child the PC Gamer way in The Sims 4

In the haze of days which pass after ExcellentChild joins the household, everyone becomes zombified. Loretta and Katrina are ships in the night, passing by one another on the way to work, on the way to bed, or on the way to fumbling through the pixellation of a nappy change. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of what I did in that chunk of time. There doesn’t seem to be much to gain from interacting with the baby beyond keeping it alive so I don’t. Nappy dealt with? Fed? Soothed? Fine. Job done. 

I feel vaguely like I should be strapping him or her to me in one of those papoose things and carting them round a museum, telling them about dinosaurs while they’re asleep or frantically Googling things with the phrase, “Is this normal?” appended to each one. There’s also less laundry than I remember with my young relatives and the fact Katrina has been able to have a bath uninterrupted definitely underlines that this is a fictional baby situation. A bath! A whole bath!

We trundle along for a couple of weeks with the baby behaving much in the manner of a loud pot plant. Both adults keep their jobs ticking over so there are points where no one is in the house to care for the child. I tense up the first time this happens, aware I might be setting myself up for a social services visit. I decide to treat this particular child as a learning experience, just in case it gets confiscated. A proof of concept child. Instead of being repossessed, though, the child goes to daycare. Apparently daycare is free? What kind of crazy universe even is this?

The baby continues to mooch off Katrina and Loretta but I dare not turn aging back on in case Katrina dies.

The baby continues to mooch off Katrina and Loretta but I dare not turn aging back on in case Katrina dies. I am staring down the barrel of a permababy future until I investigate my options. I learn that ‘age up’ is an action. Congrats, Loretta and Katrina, you now own a toddler! 

A few days later I realise that the toddler doesn’t have a bed to sleep in, toys to play with or, well, anything else. I sell another round of fruit and vegetables then get to work. Toddlers have all the best things so I just design my own best bedroom. Toys, colourful furniture, cloud lights, wall decals, pictures of dinosaurs, a chair in the shape of a bear… I consider giving the adults a nicer living space but a) I have spent all the money on the toddler, and b) they are too exhausted to appreciate anything nice anyway. 

Bathtime blues

Actually, they’re too tired to feed ExcellentChild and I get a warning that the child is going to be taken away if this continues. I hire a nanny and assume that will fix things. ExcellentChild runs to the bathroom and splashes around in the toilet. My cat used to do that and my cat lived to be about 88 in cat years so I assume the child is fine. 

Having farmed out some of the adults’ responsibilities, I decide to start getting them involved in the child’s upbringing. Disciplining and teaching are applied enthusiastically but sporadically so I give up on that and settle for a more achievable goal: giving the child a bath. 

The child is listed as ‘grungy’ thanks the accumulating muck of playtimes and dinners so I task Loretta’s with bathing them. It won’t take. I try Katrina. Nothing. No bubble baths are forthcoming. I realign the bath unit. Nothing. I try queuing up actions. Nothing. I get Katrina to try and teach the child to wash their own face in case that counts as a flannel wash. Nothing. 

My child is stinky and messy, then they top it off by soiling themselves. I hope that daycare will take care of the problem. I mean, what kind of daycare would take delivery of a child looking like they lived in a dumpster and not at least give them a dab with a sponge?

The child is returned to me as filthy as they left. But then a miracle! Loretta is finally able to bathe her! I rejoice at the sight of a woman in a llama suit exhaustedly staring at a sudsy child. Less rejoicing happened when the child exited the bath and the needs bar for hygiene was exactly as low as it was pre-wash. A second bath fixed the problem but also broke the bath. Children are the worst. 

In an effort to fix the hygiene issue I start to potty train ExcellentChild. I also demand that she be subject to flashcards and all manner of other skill-boosting activities. The more she knows, the more autonomous she will become. That’s the theory, and I force Katrina to retire from her job in order to raise this child efficiently. 

One flaw becomes apparent. Flash cards do not teach interpersonal skills. A second, related, flaw then emerges. Katrina is not happy being permanently affixed to a toddler. I’m not fond of Katrina so her sadness goes on longer than it should. In fact, I ignore it up to the point where a notification pops up and cheerily informs me that Katrina and the toddler actively despise each other.

Growth spurt

The next few hours are spent trying to repair that relationship. Hugs are given, toys are played with, food and baths are applied liberally. In making the toddler more autonomous, and using her options to ask for help or to babble about dinosaurs I’m finding her far more tolerable but not exciting. I could force-age her and see what happens, but that won’t fix my dislike of Katrina. I can’t help reminisce about my solitary gardening days. It’s about this time that the Cats and Dogs expansion comes out. A cat will fix everything… 

The household falls in love with Mr Wiggles. He is a much-loved and pampered pet. He has a far nicer set of furniture than I’ve scraped together for Katrina and Loretta, plus you can perk him up just by waggling a laser pointer. Cats are so much easier than people. 

I feel like I’ve done as much as I can for ExcellentChild. I let her finish playing with Mr Wiggles while I set up a birthday cake on the table. One of the adults helps her puff out the candles and she goes from toddler to child! But there’s no sense in wasting a useful birthday cake. She blows out the candles again and again. In a final act of stupendous parenting, I rehouse my now adult daughter with a dude called Johnny Zest who I vaguely remember because he delivered the cat.

ExcellentChild joins Nina and Dina Caliente in the ranks of children who phone the house to try and pop round or hang out with their awful parents. She, like Nina and Dina, will be ghosted for the foreseeable future. I turn her bedroom into a gym, expand the cat’s living space by making the gym smaller and install a pool in the bedroom. 

Katrina is still around and seems happier now that ExcellentChild has left home. Maybe there’s still a chance for her and Loretta? I sell another round of fruit and veg and figure it’s finally time to organise their wedding! 

They head to the park to get married. I feel like that’ll be a nice outdoor space for Loretta, and I remember seeing a well-lit area which I took to be a kind of pavilion or band stand which would make a nice venue. I hire a bartender, a caterer and then remember I forgot to make any friends. The only guests will have to be ExcellentChild and Johnny Zest.

Traditional endings

Upon arriving at the park I realise the pavilion is just a well-lit public toilet. I’d been using the no-wall view and just saw a plain wooden floor. I’m not one for changing plans once I’ve made them, so the toilet-wedding stays. It’s a splendid occasion marred only by me forgetting I needed a bar and kitchen for the caterer, thus the park is now home to a bunch of incongruous furniture.

I’m already cross with Katrina again by the time we get home so I try to get Loretta to woohoo her to death.

I’m already cross with Katrina again by the time we get home so I try to get Loretta to woohoo her to death. Unfortunately they just both keep napping afterwards and thus Katrina manages to survive the honeymoon. I search the house for further options. There’s a broken dollhouse, a fridge full of cake, a romantic garden nook and a bedroom swimming pool... 

Katrina clambers into the pool wearing her bathing costume and hat. I casually sell the ladder and sit back. She clambers back out and goes to make dinner. What chicanery is this? Apparently Sims can exit pools without ladders! I put Katrina back in the water and investigate the build mode options. A small wall should solve this. 

Katrina swims length after length of the pool. Her needs are turning red but not as fast as I’d like so to prevent Loretta being distressed by her drowning wife I plant some shrubs along the wall.

Eventually my plan works and Katrina is no more. Loretta is distraught. This is the same Loretta who happily went to bed in the same room that her wife was drowning in the night before but whatever. 

The Grim Reaper swings a scythe over Katrina’s remains. He also does a spot of cleaning up as Loretta struggles to perform basic household tasks. I hadn’t counted on her actually grieving. Neither had Mr Wiggles who runs away. I consider asking ExcellentChild for help but it occurs to me that she doesn’t know Katrina is dead. I suppose I could answer one of her many calls. 

I cancel the call instead because breaking bad news will be a faff. With Mr Wiggles gone and Loretta distressed there’s not actually much to do in my house. ExcellentChild phones again and I close the whole game down. Why have a mildly awkward conversation when I could just leave forever? And anyway, ExcellentChild survived to adulthood which means my job is done. Operation Baby was a complete success!