Smallest One understood the train was gone and waited patiently for its return. She surprised me by her tolerance, quietly keeping her tiny hand wrapped around my fingers as people milled about. Her expression brightened when the cars pulled in with a clatter and I scooped her up so she could see past the people ahead of us.
"Aunt Katie!" she protested as we followed the line as it serpentined through the pretty iron barriers. "I want to get on it!" she cried, brown eyes filling with tears as we moved away from the entrance to keep our place in line.
"Sweetheart," I soothed, rubbing her back as it heaved with sobs. "We have to stay in line - I know it seems like we're getting farther from the gate but all these people are in front of us. So we follow them until its our turn." Despite my explanations, she wept into my shoulder when the train departed without us even as her sister tossed her long hair and glanced around us.
"We'll get on when it comes back," I promised softly, cuddling her closer. "Then we'll ride around the zoo and the train will blow its horn and we'll have a wonderful time!"
"I want to get on it," she whimpered so pitifully it made my heart hurt and I began to sing a song - much like I did when she screeched in protest while getting a diaper changed - until she calmed and waited once more.
We did ride the train, me scrunched between the two girls with my knees at my chin and arms wrapped around them. We waved to Grandma and Grandpa (and all the other people at the train crossings). We pointed at the daffodils where they were blooming in bursts of happy color.
"We're getting close to the station," I told her and she wiggled with delight, calling hello to Grandma and Grandpa before we could see them. After I helped them down the small step and unfolded myself from the tiny car, I followed, glancing at the crowd, tickets clutched in hand, waiting to fill the emptying cars.
There could have been a lesson there, I decided, glancing toward little one as she reached Mom and lifted her arms to be picked up. But sometimes its best just to toddle along and figure it out later.