I Don’t Wanna Grow Up: Why More Adults are Trying to Reclaim their Childhood


Baseball great Chili Davis once said, “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.” Jay Z followed a decade later echoing the same sentiment, “Life is but a beach chair, I don’t wanna grow up.” Both of these seem like a catchy phrases but they beg the question: Why in the world would anyone NOT want to grow up?

For many of us, when we think of the idea of being a grown up, we think of all the things we couldn’t do when we were kids: drive a sports car, get an amazing apartment, stay up as late as we want, NEVER face restrictions or punishments from parents, and eat French fries and/or Sour Patch Kids for dinner. And as ridiculous as this seems, asking any adult will prove that some (obviously not all) become realities for many people. But many of the other realities of being a grown up aren’t discussed as much and leave some people craving the carefree lifestyle afforded to us during childhood. Kanye West alluded to this when he rapped, “Reality is catching up to me, taking my inner child, I’m fighting for custody.”


Adult Summer Camp


Escaping Adulthood

One of the main ways that adults have been trying to reclaim this childhood is by making time for experiences that remind them of being a kid. For example, in Brooklyn a woman recently opened the world’s first preschool for adults. The school offers the same types of activities children take part in during their pre-K years including dress up, show and tell, naptime, and finger painting .  In addition to this school, thousands of adults have been spending their vacation time attending summer camps that allow them to delve back into activities they loved doing as children. All over the country, grown ups are devoting their free time to campfires, arts and crafts, band camps, archery, stargazing, and tons of other activities to reconnect with their inner child.  Some of them even turn their cell phones over to completely let go of their responsibilities!

Camp No Counselors in NY

So what is it exactly that is drawing adults to these types of activities? Well, Dr. Stuart Brown from the National Institute of Play says, “Play is something done for its own sake,” he explains. “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.” Research has shown that playtime for adults allows them to stay sharp and connect with others to build community.

Stepbrothers Film

What do you think? Should playtime only be for kids?  Or do adults need to spend more time playing and less time working?


Some media may contain mature content. Discretion is advised when viewing with students.

Lesson Plan

Objective: Students will read and analyze Sandra Cisneros' short story "Eleven" and apply overarching themes to trending topics of adults engaged in child-like play

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Lesson tags: Eighth, English, Featured, Life Skills, Media Literacy, Pop Culture, Seventh, Sixth, Sports

Andrea Fullington

Andrea Fullington Andrea is an educator and curriculum developer based in Philly. Currently she teaches high school aged youth who have left traditional schooling environments in search of more engaging options. She is passionate about project-based curricula, real-world learning, alternative education, avocados, Mexican food, and her home state of Cali. She received her Master's in education from UPenn and a BS in Sociology from USC.