I don’t wanna grow up

While the title of this column may not lend itself to being worthy of the sports pages, I ask you to keep reading for a deeper meaning.

Toys ‘R’ Us stores around the world closed their doors for the final time late last week.

Reaction among millennials, including myself, was shock as many of our parents could tell stories of the thousands of dollars they and we (the children) spent inside the walls of the toy giant in the 1990s.

Geoffrey Giraffe’s (the company’s mascot) many hangouts had all the latest and trending toys. Those buildings were the places to be for many adolescents during those early years.

As the years went by, the emergence of internet giants Amazon and EBay, along with smaller internet businesses, featuring individual sellers over companies and touting the same products for lower prices or better deals proved too much for Toys ‘R’ Us in the end.

Though the world-wide web won out in yet another form of entertainment, one piece of Toys ‘R’ Us lore it can never touch was the awesome jingle, whose first line always stood out to me:

“I don’t wanna grow up, I am a Toys ‘R’ Us kid … they got a million toys at Toys ‘R’ Us I can play with I don’t wanna grow up, I am a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.”

Growing up as a huge nerd into Star Wars, Power Rangers, Transformers and video games meant I was a ‘Toys ‘R’ Us kid’ for probably close to a decade.

However, the day eventually came where action figures, Nerf guns, and model ships no longer held my attention like they had once in my life.

Video games survived alongside my new interests of sports, friends, jobs, and beginning to lay the foundation for my adult life.

It isn’t a secret two of the above pursuits melded together into my career of sports writing.

I already unwittingly had acquired a very particular set of skills. Skills which made me an ideal candidate to become a journalist in a strong imagination, high puzzle-solving ability, and critical-thinking skills.

How did I unknowingly acquire such knowledge? Why by being a ‘Toys ‘R’ Us kid’ of course.

Sure writing and playing with pieces of plastic are obviously different, but HOW I do or did each was purely based on what my brain could come up with during my thought processes.

I was already even thinking about the fundamental questions of journalism at a young age in who, what, when, where, why and how during my afternoon ummm …. quests I guess you could call them.

Column writing falls right in line neatly too. The piece you are reading now being a clear example of my strong imagination.

Then there were the puzzles (and frustrations) of figuring out all those Transformers and um …. those Einsteinian transformations. One could use the instructions included, but I preferred the puzzle approach of trial and error.

Each figure being a new puzzle just like each of my stories now.

How I got to the beginning, middle and end was solely up to me.

Of course, the best part of today is I get paid to fit my pieces together. No payment or AA batteries required in solving any puzzles now.

My gaming hobby (the rest of my family is probably reading this somewhere with a different word in mind than hobby) stuck around because of the critical-thinking and puzzle-sovling elements combined in the genre.

There was no better feeling than completing a tough level, much like polishing off a particularly entertaining article or capturing the perfect photo for the next morning’s paper.

All three of which are pretty awesome.

Huh … Sounds just like something young me would say.

I guess I really have never had to grow up.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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