How the Old Days Got Their Name (Part 3)

Mostly Bright Ideas

MotherMother was the boss. Everyone else lined up, facing her, about thirty feet away. The objective was to work your way toward Mother through a series of steps, which she directed you to perform. But here’s the thing. After receiving your instructions, you were then required to ask Mother’s permission to go ahead, and she could refuse to approve the very action she had just ordered you to take. The first person to reach her was the winner. It was called Mother May I, and while the rules were simple, the game gave us an early lesson in both the scarcity of justice and the complexities of juvenile bureaucracy.

“Margaret, please take five giant steps.”
“Mother, may I?”
“Yes, you may.”

“Eugene, take two giant steps.”
“Mother, may I?”
“No, you may not. Instead, take one teensy-weensy step.”
“Mother, may I?”
“Yes, you may.”

And so it went. To…

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