It takes a whole SL Village to create an SL Child…
While this is a variation of the widely used African Proverb, it holds true in the SL Community as well. This is because, in certain family-oriented circles, you may come across an RL adult who chooses to role play as an SL Child. Yet, there are many dynamics that come into play when role playing as an SL kid; these dynamics includes the struggle of finding a family that openly embraces SL children, as well as facing naysayers who harbor animosity toward adults who choose this type of child-oriented role play in the first place.
Yet while many may question the motives behind an RL adult’s decision to role play as an SL Child, there are many others who highly value the SL little ones…especially as it relates to the construct of an SL Family. Tyshawna luv, also known as Mrs. Bedroomeyez, explains: “It is a beautiful thing to have an SL child, no matter if they are across the world or not…Because you are able to build trust with someone through the internet knowing that they would have your back…”
In this sense, an SL child can act as a glue to better cement an SL family together. This is because, according to Kamille Kamala, they offer unconditional love. She explains, “I wanted love in SL. I was looking for love and I saw that so many people had families that they were connected to, so I sought that out. I began building my family kid by kid. It was by no means easy to build a family, I met my share of duds. But overall, I just love being a mom. It makes my day when I get IM after IM during the day with the words, ‘Hi Mom’ sent to me. When I hear them call me mom, it makes my heart bloom into a flower.”
Kamille’s interests in creating an SL child-centered family is so immense, she has carefully researched different SL adoption agencies to better locate a child compatible with the Kamala clan. For those who are not familiar with this process, there are SIM-based agencies that specialize in connecting families with SL Children in need. According to Kamille, one of the best adoption agencies in SL is the Almost Home Adoption Agency. This agency specializes in connecting children in need to SL Foster families who will willingly accept them with open arms.
This agency also specializes in connecting SL children to God Parents, as well as to “Forever Families.” For those unfamiliar with these terms (especially as it relates to the SL Community), the Almost Home Adoption Agency defines each definition on their note cards as follows:
- Foster Care – caring for orphaned, neglected children in a substitute home on either a full-time or temporary basis.
- God Children – According to Wikipedia, “The secular view of a godparent tends to be an individual chosen by the parents to take an interest in the child’s upbringing and personal development, and to take care of the child should anything happen to the parents” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godparent)
- Forever Families – caring for an orphaned or neglected child on a more permanent (and indefinite) basis.
In terms of Kamille Kamala’s reasons behind going to the Almost Home Adoption Agency, she explains: “…they offer foster parenting panels…others don’t do that…I (also) like them because they give the name of those who like you…” This, in turn, gives the SL Children the power to choose, as well as contact, the parents they think are compatible to them…
If you are interested in adopting an SL child, be sure to thoroughly research all the adoption agencies out there before deciding which one will ultimately provide you with your own SL child.
It Takes A Village: Why Be An SL Child?
While Kamille’s knowledge on the SL child adoption process is impressive, it can potentially lead a person to wonder why an RL adult would choose to roleplay as an SL child in the first place–especially if this child-based role consists of a “trial and error-based” adoption process that may not bring forth a compatible family unit. After all, not only is picking a parent risky, there also appears to be a lack of freedom in being an SL child to begin with. Akaiysha Rae, a young woman that has functioned as an SL Child avi since 2009, reiterates this claim by stating the following:
“I think the most challenging thing [about being an SL Child avi] is being able to find a lot of places or places in the destination guide that caters to smaller avis. Often times, I find myself being at my home sim all day with just family….not being able to interact with other kid avies like me because there’s not many places for us to go….”
What complicates matters further are the gross misunderstandings associated with those who choose to be SL Children. Akaiysha Rae explains, “The most challenging for me is when you come across people who don’t understand the [reasons why many choose to] role play as a kid. Some people have said nasty things to me for being a child avi…”
For this reason, Rae wants to let everyone know that a person decides to role play as an SL Child not because they have some pedophilia-based fantasy, but because they are attempting to redefine their own personal memories associated with their RL childhood. Rae states, “This is not a sexual game. This is being young again. This is about having a childhood you have lost or was taken from you.”
In Rae’s case, she relies on SL to reclaim an aspect of her childhood that was lost. She explains, “My parents didn’t have time for when I was younger…[but] on SL, the sky is the limit…I am part of a family…[in fact,] I am the second youngest of [my SL] family.” To fully embrace the construct associated with being an SL child, Rae contends that she can be a bit over attentive to her parents. “I am very clingy to my mom, but I am my dad’s youngest so I’m his little princess. Yet, what I enjoy the most is how everyone is so on board and jumps into role play as soon as I get into character…no matter if it’s a distant relative…they are all into role play and going along with the story line.”
In addition to reclaiming an RL childhood that was lost, there is also value in being connected to multiple families inworld. In Sweetiepie Riggles case, this is one of many reasons why she chooses to role play as an SL child. Riggles explains, “I have many families in sl. That is what is so wonderful. I have more than one set of parents. And they all know about each other. I don’t have secret families. And everyone is sweet and nice. My one SL mommy told me, ‘SL is so great cause there is no set amount of love you can share.’ So you can have many sisters/brothers, parents and so much more.” Like Akaiysha Rae, Sweetiepie Riggles is a self-proclaimed “Daddy and Mommy’s Girl.” Riggles cannot contain her enthusiasm as she explains, ”I love being ‘Daddy’s Girl’ and ‘Mommy’s Girl’ [because] I didnt have that kind of relationship growing up. So it’s super nice to have it now.”
Sweetiepie Riggles adds, “We always like to think if we could change our RL past what would we [do]. But even with all the bad things that did happen to me growing up… it has made me the person I am today. And I love me. Do I wish there was no abuse, rape… of course but it is the past and that is where it should stay.”
Riggles continues, “I am a stronger person for the things I have been through. I have noticed a lot of SL children were abused in their RL past. I guess becoming a child in sl, lets us have some of what we really did miss out on.”
However, be mindful that, although Sweetiepie Riggles and Akaiysha Rae may emulate their roles as SL children for various reason, not all adults who role play as SL children solely do so because they had a problematic RL childhood. In fact, assuming that SL children decide to role play as children solely for this reason can be frustrating to many SL children. For instance, Olivia Kamala, also known as oliviarosefirehawk resident, explains: “People always assume that you had to have had a horrible childhood or something currently wrong with you which makes you want to RP as a child.” Yet rather than dwell in her frustration, Olivia Kamala explains that she takes a very proactive stance in addressing this misnomer. “I address it” she states, “…with being open about my reasons and making sure it’s known that I am an adult behind this Avatar who has feelings and thoughts just like everyone else.”
Olivia Kamala, who role plays as Kamille Kamala’s daughter, as well as ReRe Sandalwood’s niece, says that the number one thing she loves about being an SL Child is being a part of a loving family. She contends, “I enjoy having family time and playing games. Sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of fun and relax which you sometimes can’t do on an Adult Avatar…”
SweetiePie Riggles echoes Olivia Kamala’s sentiment that family is one of the most important things to have in SL. Riggles says, “I’ve made sure to make bonds on here with family…even when argument erupt, we all work through them [together as a way] to grow and bond even more.” She continues, “After being in SL for going on 8 years as a child avatar, I can say one thing is for sure. I love secondlfe and I would be sad if it closed shop one day. But until it does I will continue to be Sweetiepie Riggles. I will create, laugh and love.”
Speaking of Love, Where Does An SL Kid Love To Shop?
With all this talk of adoption and family, The SL Parade wanted to know the following: how on Earth do you find clothes for those little avi kid bodies? With all the risqué apparel that is already available to both SL genders, it is difficult enough to locate conservative clothing for an adult avi; thus, imagine how hard it must be for an SL Child…
Yet, right when we began to utter this question, Sweetiepie Riggles let it be known that being an SL Child can be not only refreshing, but empowering. Ruggles is the proud owner of “Sweet Tots” store, a store that specializes in children’s apparel. After letting out a heartfelt giggle, Ruggles says, “I have been making kids clothes in SL for going on 7 years now. If I’m wearing it, I made it.”
According to Riggles, what makes Sweet Tots unique is that her customers can purchase the full outfit for one low linden price. She details, “I was one of the first shops to offer that. Before (back when I had my SL Daughter) when you bought clothes, you would have to buy everything in pieces….”
Because she recognizes that families love to give to their SL children, she makes the ability to transfer her products easy. Riggles states, “…all my stuff is Transfer, so it makes for great gifts.”
Akaesha Rae has a different store in mind when it comes to getting clothes for herself. “Well…” she contends, “…one of my favorite stores is Chantilly Lace Boutique…their clothing is so adorable and cute… as far as books and toys, Spronkwings is my favorite place of all time.”
In contrast, Olivia Kamala says that she likes The Blossom and TipToes. She explains, “They always have designs that look fresh, and I like looking up to date as much as I can.”
It Takes A Village: From Family to Fashion
Overall, there is so much more to being an SL child than the average SL Community member thinks. In order for an SL child to fully realize their potential, they have to be in an environment that keenly nurtures their well being, as well as fully embraces their role play. Yet, while we as SL Community members have to take into account that some of the RL adults who function as SL children may have had problematic RL childhoods, there are many others that do it simply for the fun of it. Yet, no matter the reason, it is important that we, as a community. be tolerant and embrace all avatars…regardless of what walks of life they come from in RL or SL.
Remember, from family to fashion, it takes an SL Community to create an SL Child (smiles)!