The first Halloween we ever spent as parents was when our oldest daughter was eight months old. Eight months is that baby age when it is virtually impossible to overcome the temptation to burrow your nose into your baby's neck and inhale all those soon-to-be-outgrown smells of powder and milk and innocence. Completely bald and with big blue eyes, our girl was chubby in all the ways a baby should be, with dimples on her elbows and crease lines on her mid-thighs.
I'd sent away for a little costume for her, a zip-up onesie with a hood that would make her look like a lamb. I probably spent more on that outfit than on all the other Halloween costumes she's worn since. October 31 dawned dry and sunny, and we decided to try the costume on in the morning and take some pictures to send to her grandparents back in New York. We pulled it up over her bulky diaper and plopped her between two fat orange pumpkins on the front lawn. Then I reached over to pull the hood on, so that she had two furry black lamb ears on top of her head.
"Oh my god," my husband and I said, simultaneously. She was the cutest baby that had ever been conceived and produced by anyone, in the history of mankind. My husband said, "I'm getting the car." He didn't need to say what I already knew; this child needed to be shown off. The Universe demanded it.
We stopped at the coffee shop first, two parents with smiles like jack o' lanterns as strangers told us how adorable she was, and chucked her on her pillowy cheeks. A few laps up and down the main commercial drag in our little section of Oakland proved insufficient to gather all the praise that we felt was our daughter's due; we needed to go further afield.
It was back to the car for a meandering drive towards Berkeley. We'd only lived in the East Bay for a year at that point and there were still pockets of neighborhoods we hadn't explored. When, in the distance, we saw an orange balloon floating in the middle of a park, we stowed the car and made a beeline for it, holding Lamb Baby before us like a holy relic.
The grass was rutted and muddy, but all we saw were the frolicking dogs that our daughter greeted with squeals of excitement. They weren't selling any food, but we'd just eaten at the coffee shop so it wasn't an inconvenience. Besides the single orange balloon, decorations were sparse, but we were hopped up on Essence of Lamb Baby anyway. I had a passing moment of wonder at why so many of the festival attendees were dressed as hippies or hobos, but that just meant more attention for the one fleecy baby in the crowd.
In fact, such was our excitement at the novelty of our situation that it took upwards of twenty minutes to realize that the other attendees of the little gathering in Berkeley were drunk, high, homeless, or some combination of the three.
Daughter Number Two, I know your older sister can be bossy and officious sometimes, and that she has occasionally used your things without asking you. However, when you are both older and have some perspective, please thank her for breaking in your parents. Because of all the parenting lessons we only had to learn once, "Don't Mistake a Homeless Encampment for a Halloween Festival" has got to be the most important.