It was a little over a month into my homestay when my friend Isabel came to stay for a few days with my host family. They moved me into the formal tatami guest room with Isabel, but they still treated me as being closer to them than Isabel. When okaasan asked me to help lay out the futon and covers for us to sleep on, I felt like they were treating me as part of the family. I also helped in the kitchen, when Isabel was eating with the family. Until that time I had never been in the kitchen much; I was just beginning to be able to enter to get a drink of water by myself. During Isabel's visit I helped both in bringing food and dishes to the table, and in clearing off the table after dinner.
My host family constantly made little distinctions between Isabel and me. They would explain things to me (like what was going to happen next) and expect me to communicate everything to Isabel. They also gave Isabel the best portions of what they served, slightly better than mine. Isabel was also invited first into the bath, things like that. I noticed these differences, but wasn't sure what to make of them at the time.