umbrella step

Mother May I?

Mother May I? is a children's game. Also known as "Captain May I?"

Objective, Rules, and General Gameplay

One player, particularly a female (but sometimes a male) plays the "mother" or "father". The other players are the "children". To begin the game, the mother or father stands at one end of a room, 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, 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, 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 (Manhattan, late '40s)

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."

  • (He may reduce the original child's suggestion. For example, he could reduce five giant steps to three giant steps.)
  • Take (#) steps backward
  • Run backward for (#) seconds
  • Walk backward until I (mother/father) say "stop"
  • Return to the starting line (in rare cases!)

References in fictional media

See also

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