Mother May I?
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Not to be confused with Mother Mae-Eye.Mother May I is a children's game, also known as "Captain May I" and "Father May I".
Objective, Rules, and General Gameplay
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
- Take (#) steps backward
- Run backward for (#) seconds
- Walk backward until I (mother/father) say "stop"
- Return to the starting line (in rare cases)
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.
References in fiction
- Mother Mae-Eye is the name of a villain from the Teen Titans animated series.
- "Mother May I" is a track by Coheed and Cambria that features on their 2005 album, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
- In the first season of Barney and Friends, the episode "Down on Barney's Farm" featured Barney and the kids playing the game while waiting for another farm album to show up.
- A Sesame Street sketch had Luis and a group of kids playing "May I?" until Oscar the Grouch showed up and suggested a similar game, the difference being instead of "May I?" the players ask "Do I have to??"