I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid.
There’s a million toys at Toys R Us that I can play with,
From bikes and planes to video games.
I just wanna be a Toys R Us kid.
Boys are self-absorbed, insecure human beings, which is nearly the definition of immaturity. Having fun and avoiding responsibility is the modus operandi of boyhood. Back in the days when boys games primarily involved sticks, boxes, balls, rope and some dirt, at least imagination (the arts) and engineering (the sciences) skills were being developed. While the games were simpler, there was some work involved; they had to creatively entertain themselves. Now the work is done for them, and as Neil Postman observed, in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death:
When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.
Affluence has enabled an extension of boyhood, and that affluence is essentially ubiquitous in our culture. Even “poor” people are affluent in the West. Why you can even stay on your parent’s health insurance until you’re twenty-six. Thus we have seen the multiplication of the pajama-boy beta-male, living a boy’s life well into their twenties and beyond. Some have the high ambition of “growing up” to be professional “gamers” and “filmmakers,” where the fun will never end. Add to that Internet porn and the sexual revolution, the need for marriage is vastly diminished; pleasure everywhere, all the time. For those old boys who do have to get jobs, their paychecks continue to finance boyhood. Boys work to play.
Men find pleasure in their work. In fact, this is one of the ways we know that a boy has become a man. A man might still find some pleasure in playing a game, but he has learned that there are other kinds of pleasures in life; more important and lasting pleasures. There are pleasures that come from achieving goals, honing a skill, working hard, self-denial, giving to others, sacrifice, etc. Then there is the ultimate pleasure of hearing the heavenly Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” This is a real man who is ready to be a husband and a father; ready to contribute to a church and to the broader community. This is a man that makes a positive difference in the world.
Now if the goal of raising boys is to turn them into men―to turn them into men sooner rather than later―then these qualities must be instilled along the way. Boyish play is a good thing on a limited basis, but it must form a smaller and smaller percentage of their lives as they progress toward maturity. By the time they enter their teen years we should clearly see the making of a real man evidenced by hard work, self-sacrifice, and obvious godliness. If these qualities are slight or absent at age fifteen, it’s unlikely that they’ll suddenly appear at age twenty. They’ll probably not find pleasure in their work at first; play will still be more attractive. Hang in there. Turn this boy into a man and he’ll know the real, deep and abiding pleasures all the days of his life.