Why playtime for adults won’t bring your childhood back | Oliver Burkeman

What you enjoyed about being nine wasn’t playing, it was about not having a mortgage or mouths to feed

If you live in Seattle, you may now participate in something called Adult Recess, which aims to recreate the joys of an American school break time, with kickball, hopscotch, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – but minus the bullying. “I thought back to the last time when I really had fun, and it was these games when I was a kid,” the event organiser told the Wall Street Journal. This is the latest iteration of “kidulting”, a word that should be outlawed but which does pinpoint something real. San Francisco has an adult recess, too, and you can play with Play-Doh at one library in Ohio. There are also several examples of what Americans call “sleepaway camps” aimed at grownups, including at least one in Britain. Oh, and there’s an adult ball pit in Shoreditch, east London, because of course there is.

The amusing thing about adult recess is that it proves whatever theory you already believe about what’s wrong with the world. If you think today’s young adults are infantile softies, incapable of confronting real life with maturity, this proves it. On the other hand, if you think late capitalism has squeezed all the joy from existence, the hunger for this sort of thing proves it. (Around 1,000 people attended one recent Seattle event.) And if you think the problem is how business always manages to co-opt and brand what should be a natural part of life – well, maybe adult recess is a case in point.

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