A few days ago, after we had an argument, my daughter Pickle, age three, announced she had another father. His name, she told me, is Bob Cheeks.

Evidently, this Mr. Bob Cheeks fellow never tells her it is time for bed. He can also read for hours without tiring and loves to be splashed repeatedly when giving her a bath.

The existence of this doppelganger dad shook up me a bit. I looked to my wife. She assured me that although Mr. Cheeks sounded like a very nice guy, he didn’t exist outside of my daughter’s imagination.

Bob Cheeks has been around now for a few weeks. He is mostly a benign presence, and yet the experience has struck a deeper chord within me. My daughter, still so young, has already begun to push me away a bit.

Perhaps it is just February on the Island and the whole family is feeling cabin fever. At any rate, my son, Hardy, age six, has also turned on me.

The other day in the car, during an otherwise unremarkable moment on an unremarkable day, he told me I was like Mr. CEO, that guy who runs corporations, in particular the one that creates mean phrases for kids.

I did not know my son even knew the word corporation let alone that it might be run by a shadowy character named Mr. CEO.

I have to admit I kind of liked the title.

But it also gave me pause that my son sees me as someone with such a tart tongue with respect to his antics. I was also shaken by the mere fact that he now knows things I didn’t teach him. Already, he is a creature of the world as much as he is my boy.

Which is why I have begun to celebrate a pilgrimage of sorts I have been taking each evening, quite late, around three in the morning. It is not a long pilgrimage, just 20 feet or so. I walk first to my daughter’s room and then to my son’s.

They have made no noise nor cry in the night the result of some nightmare, for my son the subject of which is usually someone stealing his Legos. No, I wake on my own propelled by something larger than sound.

I walk to their rooms to cover them with blankets. It is cold at night on the Island in winter and my children are still young enough to run miles in their sleep, it seems. Their blankets don’t stand a chance. They end up on the floor or even under their beds.

Asleep, they are so quiet and vulnerable; my daughter curled into a tight ball, her behind in the air as she tries to keep herself warm and my son sprawled loose-limbed, mouth open wide and eyes twitching ever so slightly as another toy is filched by his subconscious demons.

I tuck their blankets under their chins and lay a hand on their cheeks. It is during these moments that I understand more completely than ever that I would give my life for my children. I would do it without thinking. The instinct for survival given to me at birth has been subverted. I am no longer my main concern.

During the day, when my patience is often as unpredictable as my children’s energy, it is so easy to forget how much my children mean to me. But standing in their rooms, in the dark whisper of night, amidst their toys and books, their chests rising and falling beneath their blankets, I see so clearly how I have been given more than I ever dreamed possible.