Mother, May I?


Does anyone remember the time when children, including teenagers, used to go outside and play? There are a couple of generations now that have become accustomed to just sitting around surfing the internet and playing video games either on their sophisticated game systems or high-tech cell phones.  The video game graphics are so lifelike that it seems unreal; pun intended. That is unless you went outside and played the actual sports in real life and real time like we did back in the day. Remember when we used to organize neighborhood baseball, softball, kickball, and football games and play for hours without any adult supervision? We were good as long as we were home before the streetlights came on.

In fact, the modern-day video game graphics are no match for the creativity which was our minds. Our critical thinking skills were such that we could play games that didn’t require any sports equipment. We didn’t necessarily need a basketball hoop, football, baseball bat, ball & glove to have fun. All we needed was the outdoors and in the case of inclement weather we could even adapt our outdoor games to be played indoors. We were clever at entertaining ourselves and staying out of our parent’s way while they tended to, what they called, “Grown folk’s business.”

For those of the Millennial and Generation X persuasion that may not know what I’m talking about, please allow me to enlighten you. For the old school clan that knows exactly what I’m talking about, somebody just say Amen! We played games like hide-n-go seek, king of the mountain, spin the bottle, hopscotch, red light-green light, red rover, and of course Mother, may I. The object of this game was to get from point A to point B by taking incremental steps in between as commanded by a person who stood at point B (mother) and would tell each person starting at point A to hop, skip, or jump on either 1 leg or 2 a specific number of times forward.  Before proceeding each individual had to get mother’s approval by asking, “Mother, may I?” The first person to mother (point B) was the winner and would play the role of “mother” on the return back to point A.

Metaphorically speaking there are some significant implications to be gleaned and life-long lessons to be learned from the game, mother, may I. First of all, we knew that mother was in charge. If we moved without mother’s approval we had to go all the way back to point A regardless of how close we were to point B. Secondly mother generally granted permission, therefore mother wasn’t going to tell us to make a move that was not in our best interest. Likewise, we wouldn’t ask mother’s permission if we knew it wasn’t right. There was a mutual respect in that mother wouldn’t tell us the wrong thing and we wouldn’t act on something that we knew mother didn’t approve of. 

Regardless of your respective generational capacity, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, we can acknowledge our love and respect for mother by listening to her and heeding the lessons she taught even when mother isn’t present. If you ever find yourself in a dilemma when making a decision, just think to yourself mother, may I? If it’s something that your mother wouldn’t approve, then you probably shouldn’t do it. If it’s something that would meet your mother’s approval, then go for it! (Eph. 6:1-2).

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