“Will it hurt?” One of the twins asked as we pulled into the doctor’s office. “Only a little pinch.” I playfully pinched each. “That’s not bad, is it?” Both nodded somberly as if weighing this against their desire to be ‘big girls’. The exam went smoothly and I sighed with relief. I’d worried this would mimic last year. Ending with me crawling around dragging Laken out of the corner she’d wedged herself in. Curled in a fetal position between the wall and baby scale, screaming. “Let’s do one at a time.” The girls had already hashed it out, because no one wants to be first. A coin toss, threats, bribes and/or rock, paper or scissors were how decisions were made at age seven. Laken had lost. Jamie took Yasmine out to the waiting room and I sat on the table with Laken on my lap, facing me while holding her in a hug. Another nurse entered the room carrying two shots. She followed my gaze, “Don’t worry, we’ll do them both at the same time.” The nurses circled their unwilling victim, needles in hand, as Laken began to squirm and cry. Using her feet, she braced against the wall and tried to free herself. I struggling to hold onto my greased piglet err…daughter. The needles simultaneously pierced her arms; exactly when her scream most likely ruptured my ear drums. I envisioned every child in the waiting room stopping mid-play to gaze at the closed door in terror at what sort of torture awaited them. Including Yasmine, who would recognize her sister’s voice, now forewarned that this was no ‘so-called- pinch’ to cause such agony in her sister. Jamie who was also certain to regret not going first. The nurse’s lips moved soundlessly, as the shrill wail continued from Laken’s bottomless lungs, battering my brain. By then she had fallen into her old standby of ‘I’m going to make myself vomit because you’ve upset me so much.’ As the heaving started I leaned back to get a better look at her face streaked with snail trails of tears , eyes squinted so tightly shut that they’d all but disappeared into her head. “It’s all done, honey. You did great.” I whispered this mantra while patting her back. At least I thought I whispered, but I could no longer hear my own voice. For all I knew I could’ve been bellowing it as one does to those we think may be hard of hearing just because they look old. Finally she stopped the sobbing and retching for a moment to ask, “Why did I have to get Yasmine’s shot too?” “You didn’t.” I soothed her. “Does she have to get two shots, too?” I nodded and Laken’s crying dried up like an empty well. “Do I get a sticker?” “Yes.” She smiled despite them being the same sticker selection she’d had since birth. Stickers were a marvelous thing. Sometimes it was good to be first.