Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post provides information about the children's game "Mother May I?" and features a YouTube video of an adapted form of that game that was played in a segment of the syndicated American talk show "The Real".
The content of this post is presented for cultural, recreational, and entertainment purposes.
All copyrights remains with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to all those who are featured in this embedded video and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE CHILDREN'S GAME "MOTHER MAY I?"
These excerpts are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.
”Mother May I”? is a children's game, also known as " Captain May I? " and "Father May I?".
Objective, Rules, and General Gameplay
One player plays the "mother", "father" or "captain". The other players are the "children" or "crewmembers". To begin the game, the mother or father stands at one end of a room and turns around facing away, while all the children line up at the other end. The children take turns asking "Mother/Father, may I ____?" and makes a movement suggestion. For example, one might ask, "Mother/Father, may I take five steps forward?" The mother/father either replies "Yes, you may" or "No, you may not do that, but you may _____ instead" and inserts his/her own suggestion. The players usually move closer to the mother/father but are sometimes led farther away. Even if the mother/father makes an unfavorable suggestion, the child must still perform it. The first of the children to reach the location of the mother/father wins the game. That child then becomes the mother/father himself, the original mother/father becomes a child, and a new round begins.
Some suggestions that fill in the "Mother/Father/Captain, may I ____?" blank include:
Take (#) steps forward
Take (#) giant steps forward (usually a small number, due to large step size)
Take (#) baby steps forward (usually a large number, due to tiny step size)
Take (#) umbrella steps forward
Hop forward like a frog, (#) times
Run forward for (#) seconds
Crabwalk forward for (#) seconds
Take (#) Cinderella steps - Twirl forward with index finger touching the top of the head
Open-and-shut the book (#) times - jump forwards with feet apart then again bringing the feet together
Lamppost - lie face down and stretch arms forwards, bring your feet to the point reached by the fingertips
If the "children" are reaching the "mother" or "father" too quickly, the "mother"/"father" may reject the child's suggestion by replacing it with "No, you may not do that, but you may ____ instead." They may reduce the child's original suggestion (for example, reducing five giant steps to three giant steps), or make a different suggestion, such as:
Take (#) steps backward
Run backward for (#) seconds
Walk backward until I (mother/father) say "stop"
Return to the starting line (in rare cases)
A common alternative gameplay is for "mother" or "father" (who can be facing the children) to begin each child's turn by issuing the instruction to be carried out. The child must reply, "Mother/Father, may I?" before carrying out the order, to which Mother/Father always consents. However, if the child omits to ask permission he or she is required to go back to the start. Children who have advanced a long way towards the goal are thus brought to ruin; instructions to go backwards must also be asked for lest a worse fate awaits. The art to being a good mother or father is to bring everyone as equally as possible.
Other variations of this kind of crossing-over game are "What's the Time, Mr Wolf?" (sometimes called "Old Mrs. Fox, What Time is It?", although this version is slightly different), "Grandmother's Footsteps" and "Bulldog", played in Britain. In the first of these, gameplay is similar: Mr Wolf faces away from the children (or Mrs. Fox faces the children), the children together chant in a well-known fashion "What's the time, Mr Wolf?" (or "Old Mrs. Fox, what time is it?"), and if he or she replies with 9 o'clock, the children move 9 steps forward. Should anyone reach Mr Wolf, he or she becomes the new Mr Wolf.
Alternatively, however, should Mr Wolf reply to the question by saying "Dinner Time!" (or in the Mrs. Fox version, "Midnight!") he turns and chases the children back towards the start. If he catches one before he or she reaches safety, that child is the new Mr Wolf.”…
Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/03/connections-between-british-caribbean.html for a pancocojams post on "What Time Is It Mr. Wolf" and some other similarly played children's games.
From lhttp://www.gameskidsplay.net/games/mental_games/mother_may_i.html Mother May I A.K.A. Captain May I
"One game I remember is Mother May I. One person (it could be Mom) stands facing away from a line of kids. She then chooses a child (at random, or in order), and announces a direction. These follow a pattern, such as, "Brian, you may take' x' giant/regular/baby steps forward/backward." The child responds with "Mother may I?" Mom then states "Yes" or "No", depending on her whim, and the child complies. If the child forgets to ask "Mother may I?" he/she goes back to the starting line. First one to touch Mother wins.
-Contributed by: Gary Swanson
In one variation I learned, each child takes turns asking, "Mother may I take . . . steps?" And the child who is mother replies yes or no. In addition to baby, regular, and giant steps, we had ballet steps which were kind of like fake ballet turns.
Another way we played the mother would say, "Take __ ____________ steps [always] forward." And each child in turn would reply, "Mother, may I?" Then, Mother tell each child whether they could or couldn't.
Contributed by Erika Salomon
Scissors step- jump while crossing your feet, then jump while uncrossing them was one step
Banana step-laying down with feet at current spot, marking where the top of your head was, and getting up there for new spot.
Bunny step - a hop
-Contributed by: Dea"
I remember playing "Mother May I?" in the 1950s in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In my neighborhood, we (girls and boys ages around 5-12 years) only played "take steps", "take giant steps", and "take baby steps". I also remember that I didn't like playing "Mother May I?" because I didn't think those games were fair because the caller could so easily make the winner be whoever he or she wanted it to be. I preferred the similar game "Red Light Green Light" because there was much less chance in that game for the caller to predetermine who would win.
Here's a description of the game "Red Light Green Light" from http://www.gameskidsplay.net/games/sensing_games/rl_gl.htm
"In this game, one person plays the "stop light" and the rest try to touch him/her.
At the start, all the children form a line about 15 feet away from the stop light.
The stop light faces away from the line of kids and says "green light". At this point the kids are allowed to move towards the stoplight.
At any point, the stop light may say "red light!" and turn around. If any of the kids are caught moving after this has occurred, they are out.
Play resumes when the stop light turns back around and says "green light".
The stop light wins if all the kids are out before anyone is able to touch him/her.
Otherwise, the first player to touch the stop light wins the game and earns the right to be "stop light" for the next game.
[This is one basically the same except that IT is always facing the players]
We had another way of playing "red light/ green light".
Find a large field, or yard, about the size of a tennis court to a football field.
All the kids line up on one side. the person who is "it" stays in the middle of the field. When "it" says green light, all the kids run as fast as they can. When "it" says red light, everyone stops. whoever doesn't stop is out. "it" keeps saying red light or green light until all the kids are out or has gone from one end of the field back to where they started from.
Remember, don't run too fast or when "it" says red light, you won't be able to stop.
The rule we used is you have two seconds to come to a complete stop or hit the ground.
Another hint is to always wear pants. you can kneel or flop down on red light to stop yourself. Just be careful.
The last person to make it back to the starting line is "it".
Contributed by Nicole - Thank you!
Related to: What's the Time Mr. Wolf"
SHOWCASE VIDEO: Let’s Play ‘Mother, May I?’
The Real Daytime Published on May 8, 2015
Since it’s a Mother’s Day celebration, the hosts and special guest Patti LaBelle play a REAL version of “Mother, May I?”
Instead of taking "giant steps", "baby steps" or other movements, the talk show hosts and guest star R&B * Gospel singer Patti LaBelle compete in a version of "Mother May I?" that features performing "old school" dances such as "The Funky Chicken", "The Mashed Potato", and "The Twist" along with the contemporary dance "The Nay Nay" and skipping.
Click https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Real_(TV_series) for information about "The Real" syndicated American talk show.
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