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No Means No

March 8, 2007

A play about a mother’s spiral into insanity at the hands of her toddler son.

Mama: Loving, but frazzled, hugely pregnant twenty-something mother.
Tom: Spirited, intelligent, pre-lingual eighteen-month-old boy.

Act I

At Rise: (A bathroom somewhere in Pennsylvania. It is dawn. Mama is brushing her teeth at the sink. From offstage she hears the sound of the refrigerator door opening and closing. Toddler son, Tom, appears in bathroom lugging 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola.)

Tom: (Holding bottle out to Mama)
Ugh ugh ugh!

Mama: No Tom, that’s Mama’s juice. Tom may not have that juice.

Tom: (Making drinking motion with bottle)
Ugh ugh ugh!

Mama: (Sighing)
Mama said no.

Tom: (Running out of bathroom and sliding down the stairs, still clutching bottle)
Ugh ugh ugh!

Mama: (Following Tom downstairs into the kitchen, sees that Tom has found a cup and is holding both the Coke and the cup out to her.)
I know that you want that juice, Tom, but you may not have it.

Tom: (Making the American Sign Language sign for please)
Ugh, ugh, ugh!

Mama: (Gets apple juice from fridge.)
Here Tom, you may have this juice.

Tom: No, no, no!

Mama: (Giving in)
Ok Tom. Let’s compromise.
(Mama fills Tom’s cup with water and adds a splash of Coke for color.)
Here. You may have some of Mama’s juice.

Tom: No, no, no!
(Falls to floor, crying and kicking. Will not take cup.)
No, no, no!

(Tom continues kicking and crying inconsolably. Mama sighs and pours Coke down the drain to avoid further conflict. Lights fade.)

Act II

At Rise: (Brightly-lit kitchen. Tom is sitting in his highchair playing with his spoon and awaiting his breakfast.)

Mama: Here’s your waffle, Tom.

Tom: (Crying)
No, no, no!
(Stuffs waffle greedily in mouth.)
No, no, no!

Mama: (Sighs.)

(Lights fade.)


At Rise: (Administrative office of a church, drab, full of filing cabinets. It is lunchtime. Brightly colored children’s toys are scattered on the floor.)

Mama: Tom, it’s time for lunch. Let’s heat up your soup. Do you want to push the buttons on the microwave?

Tom: (Carrying bowl of soup and running towards the microwave)
No, no, no!
(He begins crying.)

Mama: Tom, do you want to help Mama? Give Mama the soup.

Tom: (Wailing)
No, no, no!

Mama: Here, let me help you.
(Attempts to pick up Tom, but he slides to the floor, tears streaming down his face. He kicks the floor.)

Tom: No, no, no!

(Mama heats soup, and Tom calms enough to climb into his highchair, where he proceeds to eat with gusto.)

Mama: Tom, do you want some cornbread?

Tom: (Reaches for cornbread.)
No, no, no!

(Lights fade.)

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachelle permalink
    March 8, 2007 3:37 pm

    Gotta love that favorite word! Only recently has Cam started to say yes on occassion. please don’t go too crazy!

  2. Jen Rouse permalink
    March 8, 2007 6:34 pm

    You made me laugh out loud!

    And I so feel your pain–thankfully neither of my kids are in the nay-saying phase right now, but I remember it well with Beth and I know that a year or so now from Lucy, that’s where I’ll be.

  3. mopsy permalink
    March 8, 2007 8:28 pm

    Snort! “Mama’s Juice” made from the ripest of cola nuts and the finest high fructose corn syrup under the sun.

    I drink the same juice.

    That was really funny, goslyn.

  4. Heth permalink
    March 8, 2007 11:30 pm

    Boy, Tom sure has his lines memorized doesn’t he?! I love that he yelled o but stuffed the waffle in his mouth anyway. HA!

  5. J-Tron permalink
    March 9, 2007 4:13 pm

    I’m reminded of The Princess Bride.

    Vizzini: Inconceivable!

    Inigo: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  6. Jess permalink
    March 12, 2007 12:47 pm

    Hee. Well, it reads like a comedy. I hope it doesn’t feel too much like a tragedy! Good work, says the dramaturg!

  7. Judy permalink
    March 13, 2007 8:19 am

    Over here, I’M the one yelling “NO” all the time.

    The response to ‘what does grandma say?’ Is ‘no no no NO NOOOOO!’

    Arghh. And I had plans to be a FUN grandma…

  8. Suzanne Temple permalink
    March 13, 2007 11:34 am

    What a coincidence! I am trying out for this play at my local theater. I wanted to play, “Tom” but they said I fit the role of his mother better. ???

  9. sarah k. permalink
    March 23, 2007 10:51 am

    I’ve totally seen this play! I thought it was one of those obscure art-house plays. The one I saw had two Tom’s though. And while they were yelling their line, they were wrestling and throwing each other to the ground. I hope you printed this out to put in his scrap-book.

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