I watch you, Jackson.

I watch you watching your dad.

I watch you growing up and into him, crawling underneath his skin. I see how you yearn to know more and more of him and how you would sleep legs slung over him every night if he’d let you. Watching you I learn what it is to be a son and I get a glimpse into the remarkable view of being a father to boys.

I hear you. I hear the two of you spinning tales of spiderman and super heroes and even with my eyes closed I can see yours – blue as your Grandpa Rous’ – brimming with delight at story after story of good guys beating up on the bad. I know your dad is dog tired, it’s 9.30 at night and still there he is sprawled out next to you on the playroom floor in between the scattered puzzles and bits and pieces of the airplane you are building. Your voice carries because you never stop talking. And you keep coaxing your dad into the next story, the next puzzle, the next lego.

His low chuckle rumbles back to me here in the bedroom.

So I give it to you. These hours when you should be in bed. I give them to you to spend with your dad and without your little brother. Just the two of you. I know a growing boy needs that. Like he needs second, third, fourth helpings of food between dinner time and lights out. He needs to chew on the company of his father. And I don’t need a camera to remind me of nights like these. I am full of the memory – from my ears to my tippy toes. I will remember and feel this same smile tugging at my cheeks.

The crooked smile that you and I share.

And that you give to your dad. Night after night after very late night.