When Yes Means No

A Farce in Many Acts

Written By: Mum

Starring: Happy Chin


Act One

Scene One

A suburban kitchen at breakfast time. Mum stands at the fridge, holding a plastic container full of baked beans. Happy Chin enters.

MUM:                   Would you like some beans, mate?

HC:                         Yes!

MUM:                   OK, I’ll heat them up for you.


Scene Two

The living room. Happy Chin is sitting on the couch. Mum enters with a plate of beans.

MUM:                   (hands HC the plate) Here you go!

HC:                         No beans!

MUM:                   (snatches the plate from HC and marches upstairs) Fine, don’t eat the beans! See if I care!

A short pause.

HC:                         (calls up the stairs) Toast?

MUM:                   Now you want toast?

HC:                         Yes!

MUM:                   (sighs) OK, just a sec, I’ll make you some toast.


Scene Three

The kitchen. Mum hands a plate of toast to Happy Chin.

HC:                         No toast!!!


And so the play goes, with Happy Chin in the starring role and me trying for a Best Supporting Actress nomination at next year’s Softest Parent Awards. I don’t have high hopes for it as the next Broadway or West End smash hit. It does get a bit predictable around Act Four when I attempt to foil Happy Chin by offering crumpets and toast, knowing full well he wants Weetbix. The dramatic tension rises slightly while he considers his options, but it all ends badly again, as he decides he doesn’t want my lovingly prepared food and pours his tea on the floor.


Fans of the UK TV show Little Britain may find my work derivative, but I assure you that the source material for When Yes Means No pre-dates Andy and Lou by at least 8 years. And I have the grey hairs to prove it.


Some days Mr August and I just know we’re in for a “no” kinda day.

HC:                         (at 5AM, appearing by the parental bed having wet his own) Wet!

Mr A:                     OK, shower time.

HC:                         No!

Mum:                    Come on mate, time for a shower now.

HC:                         No!!

Mr A:                     (aside) Hang on, we shouldn’t be asking closed questions. We should be giving him choices.

(to HC) Shower or bath, mate?

HC:                         No!!!!


It’s such a bonus when we get a few “yeses in the day.” Such as:

Mr A:                     Are you gonna say “no” all day?

HC:                         Yes!!


Some days I get so over it that I amuse myself thusly:

Mum:                    Would you like a million dollars?

HC:                         No!

Mum:                    How about a lifetime’s supply of chocolate?

HC:                         No!!

Mum:                    OK then, a lifetimes’ supply of Sauvignon Blanc?

HCL                        No!!!


Honestly, there’s no pleasing some people.


Except we are lucky, there is a way. It’s called his Happy Chin. Music can make it appear, favourite stories, exercise, foods he loves, fizzy drink, kisses or a swing in the park.


Sometimes just the simple phrase, “where’s your Happy Chin?” will make him stop for a moment, tip his head to one side, adopt a rather thoughtful look and then declare, “Happy Chin on!” Then, in the immortal words of the Scissor Sisters (a favourite band of HC’s), we can let the goods times all roll out for at least the next 30 minutes or so.


A Happy Chin moment attained early in the day, if skilfully managed, can carry us through the whole day. The key is to engineer a smooth transition from one bright moment to the next, rather in the way you manage a toddler. Except this toddler is 20 years old and capable of knocking the car out of gear, grabbing the wheel and sending you into oncoming traffic.


Attempting to Change the Subject when Happy Chin is focussed on something he wants is pretty much always doomed to failure.


HC:                         Ask.

Background: we taught Happy Chin when he was about 8 that if he wanted something he had to ask for it, so now he just says “ask,” and assumed we know what he means. D’uh!

Mum:                    What are you asking for?

HC:                         Ask.

Mum:                    Yes, but what are you asking for?

HC:                         Coke.

Mum:                    You can have a cup of tea. It’s 8AM.

HC:                         Coke!

Mum:                    Settle down. Remember your birthday is coming?

HC:                         Coke!!

Mum:                    I wonder if you’ll get lots of presents?

HC:                         No presents!

Mum:                    Perhaps there’ll be balloons?

HC:                         No noons!!

Mum:                    And cake?

HC:                         No cake!!!

Mum:                    Right. I give up.

Exit Mum.

The curtain falls.


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