Rachel received another promotion the day before Phoenix's birthday, having served as a Patrol Officer for less time than any of her previous positions. To celebrate, she drove her brand new police cruiser to the salon for a long overdue makeover.
The salon was busy that evening, so she put in her name and went to sit in the waiting area. As she walked by the mirrors, however, she couldn't help but notice that one of the other patrons seemed to be starring at her. Rachel grew concerned when the woman began to follow her into the next room.
"Excuse me," the woman apologized as she approached, "I'm sorry to bother you, but you look very familiar. You live over on Forest Drive, don't you? I'm your neighbor, Emily Jacobs."
"Oh, of course," Rachel nodded, realization finally dawning on her, "You're from the new family that moved in across the street."
"Not so new anymore," Emily shrugged sheepishly, "I've always meant to get out and meet the neighbors, but with my job and a small child, it kept getting pushed to the side."
"I understand completely," Rachel sympathized, "If I'm not at work, I'm busy taking care of my son, Phoenix."
As the two chatted, Rachel discovered that they had quite a bit in common. Besides being the mother of a little boy around the same age as hers, Emily worked for the city as a firefighter, and was married to a scientist. Perhaps Rachel had finally found some residents of Anne Arbor who were actually worth socializing with.
"Well, I better let you get to your appointment," Emily said, excusing herself, "I've had mine already and need to be getting home."
"You know," Rachel stopped her, deciding at the last minute to reach beyond her comfort zone, "We're having a party this weekend for Phoenix's birthday, why don't you come? I'm sure the boys would have fun together."
Emily agreed enthusiastically, and Rachel went to meet with her stylist.
"This is what I usually wear," Rachel demonstrated.
"Ugh, so bland!" the stylist exclaimed, "We have got to get some color on you."
Rachel wasn't so certain she had come to the right place anymore, especially if the woman's current outfit was any indication of her fashion sense.
Yep, that was exactly what she was afraid of.
About an hour and ten changes of clothes later, she was finally able to argue her way into something decent.
Introducing, Lieutenant Keatts! Now she could start out her new position and her son's new life stage in style.
"It's your big day today, Birthday Boy!" Rachel cooed as she dressed Phoenix the next morning.
Mother and son left early for Tokapie Park to set up for the party.
After the decorations were done, they played on the playground together until the guests arrived. Rachel felt a tinge of guilt as she realized that they should have spent more time together like this before Phoenix grew up.
"Say hello to Mrs. Jacobs, Phoenix," Rachel instructed. Phoenix just held on tightly to his mom.
"Is he being shy today?" Emily chuckled, then introduced her family, "This is my husband, Cemre, and my son, Paulie."
"Hello!" Paulie chirped, politely.
After greetings were made, it was time for the celebration. It seemed to Rachel that it was just the other day that she was holding an infant up to the candles. She hoped that Phoenix hadn't lost as much faith in wishes as she had since then.
Her little boy was growing up so quickly.
Rachel insisted that they eat lunch before cake, but gave Phoenix his present to play with while they waited.
Phoenix excitedly unwrapped a SnapTastic camera, "Thanks, Mom!"
While the boys ran off together to take pictures, the ladies got to work on the barbeque. Unfortunately, Cemre couldn't stay any longer and took his leave early, leaving Emily and Rachel to their gossip.
"So, his father's not in the picture?" Emily asked sympathetically as she watched the kids play.
"No... he's in China," Rachel admitted.
Emily nodded knowingly, "I'm sure most men would be in China if they had the chance," she scoffed.
"It's not exactly like that--"
"Paulie Jacobs, you leave those bugs alone!" Emily cut her off, saving her from having to try and explain exactly how it was like.
Meanwhile, Paulie was abandoning the bugs as requested in order to impart some of his vast stores of knowledge unto Phoenix. Being a whole year and a half older, he felt that this was his duty.
"Do you know what hot dogs are made of?" he asked his pupil, making clear that he, of course, knew quite well.
"No, what?" Phoenix prompted, warily.
"They're made from ground up animal guts and bones and brains," he said, putting particular emphasis on the last ingredient.
"That's gross," Phoenix covered his mouth with his hands to prevent himself from gagging.
"It's true!" Paulie insisted.
"I don't believe you, I'm going to go take more pictures," Phoenix rolled his eyes as he walked away.
"Why don't you take some more pictures of me?" his self-appointed tutor offered.
"No thanks," he grumbled.
"Boys! Lunch is ready!" Emily announced as Rachel was putting the hot dogs on a plate.
"Mmm! I can't wait to eat some delicious ground up dead animals!" Paulie snickered as he heeded the call.
Phoenix hesitated as he sat at the table, watching the others chow down on their food.
"Mom, hot dogs aren't made out of ground up dead animals, are they?"
"Wha- why?" Rachel was taken completely aback, she wasn't prepared at all to answer a question like that.
"They're not, right?" Phoenix insisted.
"Well, they are made out of pieces of meat, yes," she admitted.
"And meat is dead animals," he stared blankly at the plate in front of him.
"Phoenix, honey, we need to eat protein in order to be strong and healthy," Rachel's voice had a taken on a note of desperation.
"And it tastes delicious!" Paulie contributed before stuffing his mouth with a huge bite.
"I don't want to eat dead animals!" Phoenix sprung away from the table and the offending dish, "I won't, I won't!"
Rachel nearly choked she was so shocked by such an extreme, unexpected outburst.
"Phoenix!" she called after him, before turning to apologize to their guests, "I'm so sorry, I don't know what got into him. I guess I better take him home."
"Thanks for the hot dogs, Mrs. Keatts!" Paulie called after her as she went after her son.
"That's Ms., Paulie, she's not married," Rachel could hear Emily correcting her son as she walked away.
"Huh? Doesn't Phoenix have a dad?"
Rachel sped up, she didn't want to hear the response to that question; even she couldn't think of an explanation for her family that didn't make her sound like a floozy. The circumstances of her pregnancy had never bothered her before, but she had never previously discussed them with others, either. Just imagining the gossip that people could make out of it made her realize how much easier it had been being a loner and not having to deal with that kind of nonsense.
Back at home, Phoenix was still rather upset, so Rachel tried to cheer him up by letting him eat cake for dinner since they hadn't gotten to at the party due to its abrupt ending.
"This is just for your birthday, though," Rachel warned, "You're going to have to eat real food tomorrow."
"As long as it's not dead animals," Phoenix mumbled into the frosting.
Rachel sighed, what on earth was she going to do with this kid?
The chapter title is a reference to an old nursery rhyme and, if it's not obvious by now, Phoenix's new trait is vegetarian. Disclaimer: I'm actually vegan myself, although I've never used the vegetarian trait in the sims before now. I was much older than Phoenix when I stopped eating meat, and had much different reasons than he does, and over all his experience of vegetarinism isn't necessarily going to reflect my personal beliefs. Just thought I'd throw that out there. :P
Anyway, SP had moved in a motley crew of sims across the street awhile ago, and I mostly ignored them due to Rachel's anti-social nature. Turns out that two of them had gotten married and had a kid, although I didn't even notice until he was most of the way through the toddler stage. When I investigated and found out that the little tyke had the Evil trait, I knew I just had to work him into the story as a contrast to Phoenix's Good trait. So, I kicked the excess sims out of the house and arranged a chance encounter between Rachel and Emily, and voilà! I'm very excited to see where things go from here. ^_^
As far as the generation rolls, Rachel is one promotion away from joining the forensic career track, and her children and misc fun (multi-cultural) goals were basically completed when Phoenix was born. She has been kind of stuck on the opportunist goal for awhile, though. She got an opportunity to gain a skill point in martial arts right before she left for China, and she got one while she was there, but it didn't register and it's been taking her forever to get another one since then. She is working on it though, so it still counts!