“Mama, you drive car…go back…to our home.”

She strung this one together last night as we left our weekly potluck dinner, early, at her request. It was dark, with a bright planet shining in the sky, and I’d heard the word “Mama” floating from the back seat followed by more talk, but I hadn’t heard the rest. Sometimes she talks earnestly to herself. I didn’t respond. “Mama,” she began again. “Yes, sweet girl?” I asked. And there it was. Her longest original sentence to date. This wasn’t just repeated lines from us; this was what she can do with language. She always imbues the word “home” with a note of plaintiveness, as if the only remedy for her woe is our return home. It makes no difference that it’s an apartment, and one which we will soon have to leave. It’s home, and it’s a good place for us to go, one of comfort and safety and calm (the untidiness that always surrounds us notwithstanding). “Go home,” she’ll often say if we’re out and things get stressful. She has some good sense already.

In this case, it really was good that she had us leave early, too, because after our really stressful day, we both fell apart, and while I only made myself damp with tears, she made herself and the floor wet with the barely-digested applesauce and tomato she’d eaten. Off came the clothes, the better to leave the day and its travails behind, for the cleansing shower.

It was better that we were home.