Last night I found myself at a place called YOYO. As you can infer from the name, it was an evening of planned parental sacrifice. You can only drag a six and nine year old to Cathedrals and Outdoor Markets for so long before you have to pay them back with a DVD or Indoor Playground. Pay back with DVDs when Mommy is tired, pay back with Indoor Playgrounds when Mommy is tired of hearing herself say: “Maybe next week.”
So this was the week. Daddy had just left for nine days, and it was Tuesday. If you are going to a place called YOYO, best to do so on a Tuesday or Wednesday. A weekend day would be like a middle seat on a cross Atlantic flight with an infant on one side and a smoker on the other, everything is closed on Mondays, and by Thursday you’d be with all the other parents who’ve run out of good ideas. When I texted Brett about the idea, he replied with this: “Be prepared to do YOYO nightly if you need to.” We are going to Rome in three weeks, so we have a lot of Cathedrals, ET ALL to cover.
And so, after picking up the kids from their after school activities yesterday, we headed to YOYO. We arrived at 5:30pm. By 5:31, the kid’s shoes were off and stowed in cubbies while I signed up for the mandatory YOYO card. The entry fee was 9 euros/kid for 2 hours plus 2 euros for each additional hour. In a moment of brilliance, I read this to myself meaning of course that we would leave sharply at 7:30pm. The children would never learn of the supplemental hour provision. Not knowing the language does have some perks.
Now, for what YOYO is. On the website, it said (translated from French):
“YOYO is a total immersion in a dream world that promotes the development of his intellectual faculties, his psychomotor and sensory abilities. All his senses are awakened. It enriches his imagination, expressed, constructed, socialized and affirms his personality. “
As you can see, we Americans aren’t the only ones prone to hyperbole when it comes to selling fun as quasi education. That or some Google Translate Developer had a jolly good time messing with us on that one. In words we can all understand, YOYO is a massive three floor Indoor Playground full of climbing structures, slides, and lots of fake jungle plants.
With the two hour clock ticking and a Gorilla pointing that way, the boys jumped right in while I was directed to the YOYO restaurant. Now YO! Peeps (you know I’ve been biding my time to use that), this was no Chuck E Cheese restaurant. This was a fully glassed in restaurant where you can watch kids, connect to WiFi, and order not just from a food menu but also a wine and cocktail menu. Everything paid with your YOYO card. Only in Europe. I couldn’t say Pinot Gris quick enough.
Sexy W Hotel music played, while Professional Skiing was televised on the big screen. There was a stash of magazines to read, a hair salon on the second floor (closed for tonight, but YO, what?!!), and a couple was enjoying a romantic drink in the corner. From my cozy perch in the restaurant -- with book in hand, I could see but not hear the children frolicking in the Playground. I didn’t see my own for about the first 30 minutes, but I considered this good news. Occasionally, a child would come in to the glassed room crying -- get a hug from their Mom, a sip of apple juice, and then be on their way again. It was all so not crazy for being a place that had Go- Carts and Champagne.
Well, except for the Blue Slide of Hurt in front of me. That was a little crazy. Kids whipped down that thing faster than a 220 lb man on a water slide. And no one was at the bottom to monitor that it was clear before the next one hurled themselves down. Now I’m not one who believes we need more Playground Supervisors in our schools negotiating kick ball games. However, there wasn’t a single YOYO employee watching over these Adventurers who were scaling three story mountains and then dropping ten meters. They were all working the bar or front desk.
My Adventurers were evidently getting up the courage for a collision as I had yet to see them come down the Blue Slide of Hurt. So, I figured it was time to order some food. Someone would be crying soon. After smelling hamburger (oh how I miss thee) for the last 45 minutes, I went up to the bar to order. It was 6:12 (because we are keeping track of time- which is now Mommy time!) I was told: “Sorry, the kitchen closes at 6:30.” Hmm. That felt a tinge French. Though it was best anyway seeing that I was about to order three hamburgers for 14 euros each and the only likely outcome would have been burger disappointment.
The boys soon came in – sweating and out of breath – and in desperate need of something COLD! Oh, my youngest and beverage temperature – just one of our daily dramas. The YOYO card took care of two cold apple juices, and while she’s got it – sure, let’s tack on a Go-Cart ride.
By this point (probably since the kitchen has closed), the place had cleared out and my boys had the run of the joint. They were conquering the world and each other in a three story game of hide and seek tag. They’d run up and down stairs, and no one (not even me) told them to slow down. Because when they found each other, it’s as if they have found their long lost traveling companion. Overcoming fear, one barreled down the Blue Slide of Hurt while the other muscled his way down through a dense jungle. This was better than a DVD. This was better than Disneyland (on a rainy day.)
Finally, in a blink of an eye, it was 7:28 and time for shoes. My little Adventurers were saying to each other, “This is the best invention ever!” while I paid the deficit on my YOYO card and browsed the tariff sheet again looking for the Annual Membership price.
In the car one of them asked, “Do you think we can go to
YOYO again?” To which I replied, “I think we could do that.” Tepidly, he responded: “But will we probably
have to wait a year? I know it’s kind of expensive, and really special …” I'm still working out the exact YOYO to Cathedral calculation, but I think I've got the upper hand -- and it has Pinot Gris in it.