One night at dinner, my husband tossed a buttered roll to one of our sons, who bobbled it badly. My husband applauded his catch. Our son wrinkled his nose, looked incredulously at my husband and said, "I didn't catch it. It went all over me!" Everyone at the table hooted hysterically...but me. I leapt immediately to thinking about getting greasy butter stains out of navy blue pants.
"Uh, Oh, Mama isn't laughing," said my husband. "If Mama doesn't laugh, it isn't funny."
Everyone laughed louder.
I managed a courtesy grin. Not because the scene lacked humor, but because my brain zoomed off on a tangent. That one statement contained so much wisdom.
Just as WWJD serves as a valuable resource for everyday living, so can WML. Before doing anything, every child of every age should ask himself, Would Mama Laugh? Prior to "pantsing" your brother in the concession line at the movie theater, revealing that he wore no underwear, you should stop and consider whether your mother would giggle. Before jumping off the roof onto the trampoline, every youngster should briefly pause to consider the amount of amusement his mother will derive from it. Even while in the act of placing a dead mole on his sister's placemat, a youth should stop briefly to consider how hard his mother will chuckle.
Before running naked through the neighbors' sprinklers, drawing a picture of your mama on the side of the car with a rock, or emptying an entire bottle of shampoo into running water in the tub and climbing in with all your clothes on (including your shoes), repeat to yourself over and over, if Mama doesn't laugh, it isn't funny.
Did Mama titter when you got caught smoking in the school parking lot and received a three-day suspension? Did Mama snigger when you ditched school to attend an 8 a.m. keg party on private property, in a house under construction, with 200 equally delirious teenagers? How about when the police arrived to hand out citations for trespassing and underage consumption of alcohol? Did she chortle when you stole the street sign for Adams Lane? Or when she sat in court and explained to the judge that you deserved leniency since you do not engage in illegal activities...except for that keg and trespassing incident?
Mama didn't express delight when you streaked Sanford Stadium right before halftime on national TV. Mama didn't look gleeful when you hid in the ditch and shot BB's at unsuspecting motorists. Don't expect her to snicker when you publish your memoirs revealing your family's long history of lunacy, even if she's the main character and it's a New York Times bestseller.
Please take one moment, while slipping off your shoes, loading the BB gun, opening the shampoo or writing that letter to your editor, to collect your thoughts and ask yourself, "Would mama laugh?" If the answer is no, then turn back before you're relegated to your room for the next eight years and cut out of the family inheritance.
Cynics out there might think, "So what? Who cares if mama doesn't laugh? Mama might not know what's funny."
I tell you with all sincerity, because I know, if mama doesn't laugh, it isn't funny. If it isn't funny, she probably isn't happy. And, to quote a great but nameless philosopher, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.