News Columns & Blogs

Children unravel one of life’s mysteries: The yo-yo

HOLMES BEACH — There are some fundamental things children need to know.

Respect your elders.

Listen to your parents.

Mind your manners.

“And learn the yo-yo,” said Suzanne Ward, who has a boy and a girl. “That has to be in there somewhere.”

“Every little boy needs a yo-yo,” agreed Kelly Seagraves, the mother of two boys.

“It helps to be a little ‘yo-yo’ yourself, too,” joked Sarah Jardine, who has three children.

Yo-yo guru Robert Baybrook would’ve approved of such sage observations during Thursday morning’s demonstration at the Island Branch library, but he was busy showing 30 kids, and parents, the secrets to some of life’s mysteries.

Like walk the dog.

And rock the baby.

The four-leaf clover, too.

“Who’s been to Paris?” Baybrook, 65, asked, getting several raised hands. “What was the one thing you saw in Paris?”

He proceeded to make a neat replica of the Eiffel Tower.

“Wowww!” the audience went.

His state flag of Florida got a roomful of approval, too.

Baybrook and his wife, Stephanie, a New Port Richey couple whose daughter, Jennifer, is a world champion, have been teaching yo-yo to appreciative audiences for nearly 25 years.

What’s kept them going?

“The expression on a kid’s face when they get it the first time,” Baybrook said. “When the kids leave here, they go, ‘Hey, I can do the yo-yo.’ You can’t stop them after that.”

It takes a little doing to get to that point.

Lucky Schmidt couldn’t quite get the hang of the state flag. When she did, she beamed.

“I wanted to get it,” the 9-year-old girl said. “I messed up before, but it looks like fun if you know how.”

Macey Reynolds difficulty with rock the baby was mechanical.

Her yo-yo had knots.

“Compared to rock the baby, the flag of Florida was easy,” the 10-year-old said.

Brendan Murphy, 9, thought the four-leaf clover was tough, but big brother Keegan said he’d show him how.

Or was it the other way around?

“It’s still a fun thing,” Brendan said.

Nearby martial arts instructor Kevin Bergquist helped campers unravel a puzzle of a toy he had as a boy.

“Life isn’t complete unless you can do the yo-yo,” he said. “Once you master the yo-yo, you’ve learned it all.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or email him at Please include a phone number for verification.