It's a deeply relatable question, which is why over 1,500 redditors weighed in to wax poetic about their bygone childlike whimsy. Here are some of the best responses:
1."I think of this line from The Little Prince: 'Growing up isn't the problem, forgetting is.' Many adults forget how to think creatively and imaginatively, how to play, and how to see with the heart. We forget that just because you're an adult doesn't mean you have to suddenly drop everything you love and start reading about tax codes."
2."I think those childish things evolved into more challenging pursuits. Running on the playground became running marathons, building LEGO became DIY home improvement projects, and playing with stuffed animals became volunteering at animal shelters."
3."It's not that we learned to hate fun — those fun things are just a reminder that we killed our younger selves and replaced them with responsibilities, bills, work, and obligations."
4."I think this often happens in someone's teens and 20s. It has to do with sexual attractiveness — you don't want to portray yourself as childish."
5."Some of it has to do with mastery. When something is just difficult enough, we find it interesting. If it's too easy or too hard, we don't want to do it. Kids around the age of 5 love to count — steps, fingers, cars, etc. They're still learning how, so it's challenging. But most adults only count like that in our heads to fall asleep."
6."Some things I found fun when I was younger are boring now. I think I've just had my fill of them. And my brain just works differently as I age! I'm far less imaginative. I don't think I can blame societal pressures for that — I guess I just haven't done enough to exercise my imagination."
7."People who shame others for continuing to like things they liked when they were younger are immature bullies. They cling to the idea that they are somehow 'more adult' than those they make fun of because they themselves have nothing else to be proud of."
8."I climbed trees until my early 30s and didn’t care what people thought — until my joints and ligaments rebelled."
9."When I was 10, I told my mom that I was getting too old to climb trees. Next thing I know, my mom and her 30-something friends were up in the trees, waving at me, and urging me to join them. I was SO embarrassed! But I'm 51 now, and if a kid told me they were too old to climb trees, I'd be up the nearest tree in a flash."
10."It broke my heart when my older daughter suddenly stopped playing with dolls and doing other pretend games with her younger sister. Her sister and I were both stunned. Puberty hit like a sledgehammer with that one. It's just part of the maturing process."
11."I used to listen to tons of music and spent about 10 years playing in a few different bands. Now that I'm old, I listen to podcasts, books, and ambient music. Rock is no longer my default, but I do have a playlist of pop and alt rock that has made me happy in the past, and I usually listen to it while driving home on a Friday night or on my way for drinks."
12."You try watching Frozen 25 times per week and see if you still enjoy it as much as your toddler does."
13."I don't stomp in mud puddles anymore because my mom stopped doing my laundry. But my wife and I still set aside time for mindless fun, even if it's just playing VR mini golf and bumping into each other as we move about blindly in our living room. Sometimes, our responsibilities make some kinds of fun impractical. So, we do what we can to remind ourselves of fun times."
14."My best friend and I used to play school with our stuffed animals every time we got together. One day, when we were 11 or 12, I had trouble with immersion and just couldn't get into it anymore. It was just like a switch in my brain had flipped. I remember being surprised by it, because I'd seen it happen to older cousins and swore it would never happen to me — but it did, and I didn't even miss it. Brains are weird."
15."In the Adult Fans of LEGO community, almost everyone went through the 'dark ages' when we weren’t playing with LEGO for some reason. I stopped at 15 and started again at 28. Now, I feel secure in myself and have time for small LEGO projects again. It’s a natural evolution for me."
16."A lot of old interests were designed to be attractive to the specific brain patterns of a child. As we mature, things like our attention span, learning how the world works, and mimicking the actions of adults (playing 'house' or 'store') would be boring as an adult. I don’t want to watch a colorful show that tells me what a triangle is because I already know that."
17."I've always loved games. I’ll play anything — soccer, basketball, hockey, beer pong, card games, board games. You fucking name it, and I wanna play. But none of my friends want to play games anymore. After college, it was like a switch flipped. Just go to the gym, eat well, and go to work. Holy hell, I’m still crushed. I just want to play and don’t know how anymore. I think it's the biggest disappointment of my life."
18."People are acting like being a bitter adult is something to be hated and pitied. Why shouldn't I feel sad when I see children laughing on a playground? I don't like feeling this way, but I should be entitled to my own feelings and not demonized for them. I'm not hurting anyone. Don't make me your boogeyman or paint my bitterness as somehow wrong or lesser. Let me dislike what I dislike for my own reasons! Let me be bitter."
19."As long as I’m not too old to laugh at farts, I’ll be happy."