One time during a long weekend at the monastery, Monking Friend and I were eating lunch at the guest house with an older couple, Gruff Voice and White Hair, whom we had just met. When the topic turned to children, the couple began telling us about their grown children. One son had published several books and gave lectures on some important topic. Another son had written songs that we had heard of, songs that were pretty famous. It seems like all their kids were hugely successful.
I could tell Monking Friend was starting to feel a little squirmy. She does not come from a family that gives compliments easily, and I think it's hard for her to shake the feeling that bragging is somehow wrong. I am completely in favor of parents bragging about their children – I think it's healthy behavior -- but I have to say, I too was beginning to wonder just how accomplished one family could be. I wondered what it might be like to be just a regular kid in that family.
Then the couple began talking about their grandchild. He had Down's Syndrome.
"He got a job at Local Grocery Store," Gruff Voice bragged. Their faces glowed with pride.
"Yep, he is holding down a job," White Hair said.
"You can see his self-esteem go up when puts on that Local Grocery Store uniform," Gruff Voice bragged.
"I was so proud when he showed me his first paycheck," said White Hair.
There was no mistaking the pride and affection in their voices. I looked at Monking Friend, and we smiled at each other.