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Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?

FreddyHeadey 26 Apr 17 - 05:28 AM
Senoufou 26 Apr 17 - 05:44 AM
Monique 26 Apr 17 - 06:14 AM
FreddyHeadey 26 Apr 17 - 06:49 AM
Monique 26 Apr 17 - 07:33 AM
meself 26 Apr 17 - 09:31 AM
Cool Beans 26 Apr 17 - 06:41 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Apr 17 - 02:15 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 26 Apr 17 - 05:28 AM

- Mother May I?

Is this very regional?
I don't remember this, Liverpool UK, 1960s.
...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. ...
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_May_I%3F


We did have "What's the time Mr Fox?" but I don't remember the format quite as Wikipedia has it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?
From: Senoufou
Date: 26 Apr 17 - 05:44 AM

There are many variations on this game Freddy. On 'playground duty' for decades as a teacher, in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Norwich (1960's onwards), I watched it being played in several ways.

In Norfolk it's fairly similar and is called Hot Chocolate. But no words are spoken, the children creep up and the person who has turned their back turns round suddenly. If anyone is caught moving they go to the back and start again.

As a child in the late fifties (W London) we played Mr Crocodile ("Please Mr Crocodile, may we cross your golden river?" "Only if you're wearing blue, take two steps..." and so on)

I also played Mr Wolf (not Fox). But that, as you say, was a bit different. No-one moved, but Mr Wolf, with his back turned away, answered with different times, until he said, "Twelve o'clock! Time for my dinner!" and grabbed someone to 'eat' them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?
From: Monique
Date: 26 Apr 17 - 06:14 AM

No, it's not very regional. We play(ed) "Mère -or 'Grand-mère'- que veux-tu?" in France, they do the same in Canada; a Russian-born lady wrote me they have the same game called "Hare, what time is it?" in Russia.
Hot Chocolate (Red Light Green Light, Un deux trois soleil, Chocolate inglés...) is played in many countries under many names, with or without words.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 26 Apr 17 - 06:49 AM

I'm not quite understanding how the game ends
"The first of the children to reach the location of the mother/father wins the game."
So, if the mother keeps telling the others to walk backwards ...?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?
From: Monique
Date: 26 Apr 17 - 07:33 AM

She wouldn't because the other kids would get angry, leave the game and she would stay on her own.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?
From: meself
Date: 26 Apr 17 - 09:31 AM

I remember playing it as a child in Canada (1960s) - never with parents, though. I don't remember how it would end, or much about it at all - other than it was a different game from Red Light, What Time is it Mr Wolf?, etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 26 Apr 17 - 06:41 PM

In Brooklyn NY USA it was called "Giant Steps." Kids would ask "Mother, may I take a (or more) Giant Step, or Baby Step, or Umbrella Step (spin around). "Mother would say 'yes you may' or 'no you may not but you may take (different step and number. If you forgot to say "May I" you lost your turn.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Children's Games - Mother May I?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Apr 17 - 02:15 PM

The Opies' seminal book 'The Lore and Language of Schoolchidren', which was my introduction to folklore studies in the 50s, contains a section on 'May I' dialogue games and their relatives, as does a more recent update, Steve Roud's 'The Lore of the Playground' 2010. Both books refer to regional variations.


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