‘Oh, come on Margaret,’ I growled, yanking my eight-year-old by her surprisingly strong arm.
‘No,’ she pouted, digging her heels in. ‘I don’t want to!’
‘Everybody needs their eyes checked sometimes!’ I pleaded with her in my nicest fake-happy voice. Especially when they bump into walls as often as you do.
‘Jenny says they hurt!’ she huffed, ripping her arm out of my grasp and folding it under the other one in a pitch-perfect tantrum pose. I sighed and rubbed my temples for calm.
‘Jenny? Which Jenny?’
‘My friend Jenny!’ she yelled at me, with an honest-to-God foot stamp.
My mind raced back through the last few years of birthday party invites, frowning as I recalled at least three Jenny’s.
‘Look,’ I shook my head, dispelling the Jenny’s from my brain. I took a knee next to her, and gently placed my hand over hers. ‘I don’t know what Jenny has told you about the Bayside eye doctor, but I promise you she’s a lovely woman. She really does just want to make you see as good as you possibly can.’
I brushed a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled at her, ignoring the impulse to throw her over my shoulder.
‘What if it hurts?’ she whispered to me, all traces of childish bravado gone in an instant.
‘Well,’ I said, rubbing her shoulders. ‘Then you just tell her, and she’ll stop straight away.’
‘You promise?’ Margaret blinked at me with big, wet eyes.
‘Of course I promise!’ I laughed. ‘I promise, it’s just a standard eye test for children. Local to Bayside, she’s the best in the business.’
Slowly, Margaret sniffed back her tears and a small smile appeared at the corners of her mouth. ‘Thanks, Mummy,’ she said meekly.
‘You’re welcome,’ I said, drawing her into a big hug. We stayed like that for a few moments.
‘Can we get ice-cream after?’ Margaret whispered in my ear. ‘Because I was so scared?’
My eyes widened.
‘Oh, you little—’