Saturday, October 13, 2007

God Bless the Little Brother

This may be the best campsite so far: on the street in front of Sarah and Stuart Allen's house in Portland. Hanging out together here is just a continuation of our days together in Loreto. No formalities, just pure familial comfort. Robert and I adhere to the wise saying that fresh fish and company both stink after three days, but with the Allen's we feel inclined to overstay our welcome. We are having too much fun.

Yesterday, Sarah and I took a handful of kids (hers, mine, and others) to the Portland Zoo then for an ice cream run downtown. Today while the men were in Eugene for the Ducks game, we had a belated birthday party for Allison. It was Carly's idea to have a spa party. The girls set up stations throughout the house for different "treatments" It was a hoot to watch them pamper each other and more so to watch little brother, Clayton, do his part to help out. His job was to rub hands and feet which he did with such a focused effort towards proficiency. I wanted my turn with him. He's still too young to be disgusted with all things girly. What a good sport. I look at him and imagine Robert at his age, another little brother thrown into the world of sisters and their friends. Robert had sisters only--three that were older.

It took him a few years to comprehend the significance of gender difference before taking his place among the brotherhood of boys and begin scorning girls in earnest. Until that time however, he attended ballet class with his sisters--a fact they like to remind him of.

I believe this early immersion into the female domain did him much good. He genuinely likes being in the company of women. He has a healthy respect and understanding of women, much to my benefit. He is tender, and that is a really wonderful trait. But equally, he developed a strong sense of masculinity; this certainly due to any early overcompensation towards proving manhood (I've been known to call him a Neanderthal on frustrated occasions.) Overall, he's a well balanced guy, thanks, I believe, to his sisters.

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