A Dog in the Suitcase

Dear Adeline,

Fancy Nancy. It’s in that book. On the third page a shaggy dog sits inside of a brown suitcase. Every time we turn to this page, you point and laugh. You laugh hard. You look at me and exclaim, “so funny daddy!” You understand that a suitcase is intended for clothes, not dogs, and this elicits a fountain of mirth from within.

At two-and-a-half, you grow and observe. Everyday, this place becomes less of a mystery. As you unlock the mysteries of this vast world, you begin to see things that are not in order. These things tickle you. A misplaced third eye on the forehead of your purple velcro monster drags you into uncontrollable laughter. An eye on the top of the head? What a hoot!

Discrepancies bring you pleasure and drive you into fits of joy. I envy you. Laughter and mirth are so close to the surface, they are so easy to draw forth. It takes no cynical sarcasm, no highly-developed sense of irony, no complex narrative steeped in esoteric knowledge, and no foreign chemical to bring you to a bubbly giggle.

At two-and-a-half, all it takes is something as it should not be.

I am not like this. I sip my coffee and notice a couple standing at the bar wearing their sunglasses. To you, this is a simple matter. Sunglasses are for the sun and these people are inside. Hilarious! I, however, wonder what they are hiding. I wonder why they feel the need to shield their eyes from the world. Does it make them feel powerful? My mind swirls with reasons, judgements, and conclusions and tragically, I don’t laugh.

As your world expands beyond our home you will begin to notice discrepancies of a different sort. And many of these disordered things will not elicit laughter. Things like:

  • A grown man, famous for making complicated adults laugh, decides a violent end is better than living with the pain of addiction, anxiety, and self-loathing.
  • A radical military group sweep across a war-torn country murdering all that won’t conform to their ideals.
  • A young, unarmed black man is shot by a police officer.

Just like the shaggy dog in the brown suitcase, these things are not supposed to be. And just like in your tiny world right now, these things happen all of the time. A deep part of me doesn’t want your world to expand. I want you to continue to laugh at dogs in suitcases for the rest of your life. I want you to live in a reality where this can be true. I too desire to live in this world.

For now, though, I will follow your lead. Thank you for teaching me how to laugh at the stupid things. More than that, thank you for giving me a glimpse, however fleeting, into a world where the sole reaction to discrepancy is laughter.


  1. Was it Mark Twain, or maybe Jimmy Buffet, who said, “If we didn’t laugh we’d all go insane” or something like that? Watching children lose that tiny perspective and innocence ranks as one of the most painful parental experiences.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s