There are some who are young yet they act old. There are others who are old yet they act young. Both have their benefits and their drawbacks.
I was always told that I acted older than my age; I had to -- there was no room to be a child when I was younger. To cope with my surroundings, I needed to mature to become years older than I was. To deal with the piles and stressed situations that entreated my patience every morning and evening in my home life, I wasn't able to bring friends into my home as a normal child would have; of course I did, and when or if my parents came home, my one friend at that time would often hide in my closet and then sneak out the back door sometimes an hour later. I often wondered if having a messy home was my parent's dirty little secret or my own. Either way, it became my dark little secret when I couldn't or wouldn't bring friends over. This pained me with embarrassment throughout most of my childhood. Even today I still have a nagging phobia of bringing friends over because I fear being embarrassed by those I live with. The thought of someone walking around in his dirty briefs, acting embarrassingly inappropriate, or the past thoughts of my to-be-friend being yelled at or witnessing what went on behind the closed doors of my childhood home stunted any desire I had to engage in a normal social life. I was therefore thrown forth in years significantly beyond my age. I remember so many times being terrified about what sort of outcast I would become in school if anyone found out what used to happen at home. From this and other things that went on in my home, I often confined myself to my room during my younger years and I did not "get out" like the rest of society's children were able to. In a way this is sad because I might not have developed the way one who had a healthy childhood would have. I try every day to forget my childhood years.
There are others who claim that they try to regain their childhood. Some take on crawling, some play with toys, some do who knows what. As far as I am concerned, these activities are too little, too late. Plus, to me they seem a bit sick; the idea of a fifty-year-old man crawling and sucking his thumb and crying "waa" seems a bit spooky.
On the other side of the twisted coin are those who never learned to grow up. Whatever dysfunction caused their Peter Pan syndrome, while being a child may have been acceptable during the younger part of their life, it is simply inappropriate when they are older. This type of person reminds me of a teenager who sits at home watching television and raiding the kitchen while he waits for his parents to come home and to catch him not doing his homework. He does nothing of value, and burns time as fast as lint. While this is a sad reality for too many real teens today, again, it is even more inappropriate as an adult.
What comes with this Peter Pan mentality? Other than the echoing thoughts through the hollow mind of "I won't grow up" comes a lack of responsibility for one's actions and one's life. To this person, nothing matters except for his desires and his temptations. He has a difficult time thinking beyond his immediate surroundings. While he may develop the maturity when he is older to try to surround and encompass another's needs while fulfilling his own, the merit of the gesture is akin to one who would spend thousands of dollars to attend a sports game with the intention of finding a way to write it off as a tax deduction -- before he even buys the tickets. This Peter Pan is almost medically blinded from thinking about anything greater than himself.
There is something appealing to others about his boyish charm, yet to me there is something disturbing seeing a grown man act like a fifteen-year-old. To me, growing old is a beautiful thing -- it is a natural part of life's design. Aging without growing can obviously be frustrating to the middle-aged person, and to everyone around him.
There is a time to take responsibility for one's life. There is a time to make a decision that things can no longer stay the way they are. The barrel does not need to go over the Niagara Falls with the moron inside; the boat does not need to float along with the current to end up in the lowest place. The builder put oars and a motor in the boat with the intention that they be used. Our Creator made wind so that the sails of a boat can move it against the current. No longer can this man treat his home as if it were his boyhood bedroom. It is simply wrong to not return something to its proper place after one is finished using it. It is simply wrong for one's clothing to take flight as one pulls the keys out of the keyhole of the door. It is simply inappropriate to walk around practically naked. Most of all, it is simply obscene to live one's life without growth. Peter pan, you're not a kid anymore.