Grandchildren are a treat, people tell her. The last stop in a full life and whatnot.
Karen is 51. Fifty-bloody-one. There’s just no way in all hells her life is approaching its final stretch and she has no desire to think of it that way, no desire to give everything else up and live for her family like that.
Much as she enjoys spending time with the little boys and babysit them, she also enjoys going home afterwards.
“My ears will damn well fall off,” Albin says sometimes when he’s spent a few hours with Blake and Aiden. “Or bleed out.”
She laughs then, tells him they’re not that bad, reminds him that he, too, used to nag and nag and nag and run off to do suicidal pranks. But he’s right.
“You sure you’ll be okay, mom?” Leo asks as she comes over for her monthly babysitting afternoon. They ask her more often than that, but this is the one time each month they have it planned beforehand. One evening out for Leo and Mac, one evening in for granny Karen.
“Of course I’ll be okay.” She turns to Blake who is pouting over the fact that he isn’t allowed to watch a movie about trolls. “Come on, big guy, let’s have something to eat.”
But, as it turns out, her oldest grandson is not interested in food or in being a big guy.
“I’m a baby!” he informs her and acts like one. Repeatedly.
Leo has told her he’s being difficult at the moment, ever since Aidan learned how to walk and now keeps waddling after his older brother to disturb and destroy.
“Fine,” Karen says, not interested in disciplining someone else’s kids, so she picks him up again and gives him a hug before she goes looking for his brother instead. At least you always know Aidan wants something to eat.
He’s a different sort, that kid. A chubby, cheerful little tornado on two short legs.
What he loves most, according to his parents, is to be read to by Mac. Long stories or short little rhymes doesn’t matter, as long as he can sit on the couch and listen.
And Karen can do that. She can tell stories and make up adventures – she’s been a single mom to three boys after all, struggling to keep them above the surface when it comes to financial matters, there’s no cheap trick she isn’t familiar with.
It’s usually the part of their babysitting agreement she’s most fond of, having the chance to play a little herself.
“Everyone alright?” Leo asks the moment he steps into the boys’ bedroom and finds them on the floor, all three of them, playing with stuffed animals and doing weird voices.
“Don’t sound so surprised,” Karen replies. “You survived your childhood, didn’t you?”
“Barely,” her oldest son retorts but it’s a joke, a long-running joke in their family, and she pokes his side.
Mac on the other hand isn’t as pleased with the mess in the kitchen as she is with the fact that both her sons are having a fun afternoon. Karen doesn’t blame her. She’s in the middle of a very demanding period at work, having just established herself in the police force again after two pregnancies and her tolerance levels are below zero at present.
Knowing her son, Karen also wonders if part of the equation is Leo wanting to have another kid already, putting some pressure on her there. If that’s the case, she’ll have to have a little talk with him.
Her bakery Bake-Off had been flooded during a heavy rain five months ago and is still being repaired and re-modeled so Karen’s days are much different this year.
She still visits her shop almost every day to oversee the work being done and to check out how the rest of the street fares. Now more than ever the bakery thing feels like a whim she almost hadn’t been able to afford but she’s trying to remain confident it will eventually bring in some cash.
When she’s not preoccupied with work – she’s kept her job at a bistro in River City South, just in case business goes to hell – or family, Karen tries to go out.
Clubbing, karaoke bars, just being around other people and exchanging a few lame flirty lines with strangers can be enough to satisfy her needs for a couple of weeks.
A fifty-one year old grandma’s got to do what a fifty-one year old grandma’s got to do, after all.
Back home, Albin has recently emerged from a bit of heartbreak misery.
He’s been having a very strong friendship with Rebecca Siew ever since first grade. Always competing and challenging each other, making dares and bets. Albin had been sure their feelings for each other had morphed into love over the past year or so – Karen knows because he’s told her, he’s still her little boy at heart and whenever he’s depressed about something he can never really keep it to himself – because that’s how he feels. He had thought it was a mutual thing.
But then, to his horror, Rebecca had shown him a Simbook profile of a guy she really fancies and Albin had not known what to say, apart from telling her the truth, that he had been under the impression the two of them were sort of together.
Safe to say, Rebecca hadn’t interpreted their situation like that at all.
Karen watches their little teenage drama from the outside, biting her tongue, but her heart goes out to them both.
It goes out to Eamon, too.
Eamon who stood on her porch one late afternoon, with most of his belongings in bags and boxes around him.
“It got too messy,” he tells her. Nothing else. Just that. Too messy. “Can I crash here for a while?”
“For as long as you like,” Karen had told him.
It will be a long while yet before her boys won’t need her, she realizes as she drags out the inflatable mattress from the depths of her closet. Maybe in ten years or so, or twenty, maybe then she can be that grandma who’s changing diapers thinking of grandchildren as the final destination in a long journey. Maybe.
Until then she’ll be too busy.
* So I just decided to pick up this long-abandoned hood, as you may have noticed. New game, new premises but I’ll try to keep the heart of River’s Bend the way it was. I’ve missed these sims! My play schedule is the same as it ever was – rotational play, stories based on gameplay (with some tweaking) and probably a lot of adjustments along the way. I’m working a few things out as we go with TS4, but there you go.
* Sim profiles will be updated shortly, ages of infants will be slightly adjusted since you can’t make newborns in CAS.
* Eamon had a very complicated love life in the TS2 hood but I decided not to re-create his girlfriends at this point but instead have him live with Karen and Albin. I’m sure he’ll find new romantic drama soon enough.