We adopted my daughter Vera from the Far East of Russia. She was five at the time. She is now 14. Vera has Down syndrome. Yesterday, she put on a sweatshirt. The sleeves were too long, going well past her hands. It bothered her. She came to me and told me that it was too small. I started rolling up the sleeves and told her the shirt was too big, not too small. She told me again that it was too small. We had multiple too small / too big exchanges but she wouldn't budge. I don't win arguments with Vera.
I now actually think that she meant that she was too small, rather than the shirt being too small. It made me consider how Vera may think. For instance, she often has trouble communicating, either by not being able to quite enunciate the word she is using or by not being able to phrase the thought correctly. She will keep trying until you repeat back to her what she is intending. She is frustrated if we don't get it. I think this makes her feel small and makes her consider the world as we know it to be very big. That is, we take for granted the small things (like being able to be readily understood) and she celebrates the small things moment by moment.
Vera is the most unique human being I have met, including my other two children with Down syndrome. There is no smile in the world like the Vera smile of personal worth and achievement. She loves to feel big in her somewhat small and limited world. Yet, in many ways Vera is far bigger than I will ever be or can imagine becoming. She has expanded my big world by making me appreciate all things small, inch by inch and day by day.
(posted in Facebook yesterday, and posted here with permission from Daddy John)