First the answer then the question.
Question: Why is Toddler Harbat so quiet after breakfast?
When I’d showered and dressed I came into the kitchen and found the above scene. When I asked TH what she was doing, the answer was matter-of-fact: setting up for Marbaugh’s birthday. Please note the white stepstool in the top of the frame which got her access to the cookie jar and several of the items laid out for the birthday celebration.
Who is Marbaugh? It all starts with a visit I took to Parma, Italy, in 2001 for work. I brought back, among many fantastic foods from the Emilia Romagna region, a small guide book to the sights of Parma, filled with images of famous buildings, sculpture, and artwork. Sometime after TH started talking she found this book and pored over every picture, absorbing Northern Italian art and culture. She asked about the book, I told her it was Parma. I asked her who the sculpture of a man was in one picture.
As simple mispronunciation, a tiny fragment of conversation that should’ve been forgotten, swept away by the winds of time. But Marbaugh has remained and taken on a life of his own. I’ve filled in his backstory over the past two years. He lives in the crawlspace, holds his arms out ahead of him like a blind man feeling for the light switch, his jaw hangs slack and offset, and he makes a groaning noise as he lumbers through the house. Is this the best thing to do when you have a little girl? Absolutely not. Does it entertain me? Definitely. Now she just needs to hear a snippet of the groaning noise and she knows Marbaugh is around. But it’s not all fearsome play. Marbaugh is a regular party to conversation, a fourth family member whose name is invoked for all occasions. Where are we going on our walk? To Marbaugh’s house. Who is going to sit there on the couch? Marbaugh. When you set up cupcakes, squash, and icing, who is the lucky birthday boy?
Of course. It’s Marbaugh. [gggruuuuuuuhhhhhh!]