Life Lessons from The Sims

This past week, Story has discovered The Sims, specifically The Sims Pets. As you may know, my daughter loves video games and has even tried her hand at making her own (it’s a work in progress), but when she asked for the Sims, I wondered why. She doesn’t care for video games, TV shows, or movies with people. She’s all about the animals. But when she told me she could create and train pets, I got it. And I approved it. What I didn’t expect was how addicted she became to the people and their lives . . . and how much she would learn from them.

I have never played The Sims, so I watched her play for a while before being comfortable enough with the content to let her go on her own. She spent so much time choosing and creating pets that sheer boredom drove me from the room long before I should have left. Granted it was a couple of days before I heard her say, “Ewwww! They kissed!” I immediately ran to the living room. I didn’t realize there were so many options for the characters. After the initial disgust, Story became intrigued. We had a conversation about what amorous and flirtatious meant. Then she asked about “sexy love.” To my surprise, she and her friends had already discussed what sex was (she’s eight, people), which of course is just kissing and rolling around in bed — for the time being anyway.

Beyond the sexy love, The Sims introduced several more conversations, including bills, jobs, and budgeting. I never knew that a video game could be so practical. Story was aghast that the money in her account decreased after buying the whole range of toys and beds for her pets and didn’t just magically reappear. She was furious when she had to pay bills. And her job choices were less than stellar. She even got bored when her character was at work. I loved every exasperated exclamation.

The funny thing is, we’ve talked about all of this before. She even gets an allowance that she must put a portion of into savings. But all that I’ve said seems to have just slid right off her back. It took The Sims to make it real for her; how ironic is that?