Time and time again research shows us that children need their fathers, their grandfathers. Where there is love there is hope and the ability to continue to have strong, positive relationships no matter what barriers are in place. I see the love and hope every week, it flows through the barred windows and the cast iron doors. There is humour, there is tension, there is opportunity for the dads to be more and be better.
One day, hopefully many decades from now, I can picture myself rocking manically in an old folks' home (or mental asylum), still haunted by the sinking realisation that the the Wheels On The Bus may never stop going round and round. Or that the Grand Old Duke of York will never stop marching his troops to the top of the hill. Or that I will be Row, Row, Rowing My Boat gently down the stream until i'm clinically insane.
The urgent need for a gift for my husband has found me in a pottery cafe, yet again, ruining perfectly good mugs with our children's painted footprints. The irony is not lost on the toddler, who notes that I am less enthused about her handprints when they adorn the TV screen, the folding doors and my white shorts.
There are days of mania and whirlwinds in the house where a two-year-old lives when you don't know how it was possibly 5.59am the last time you caught a glimpse of your watch and then there are days when silence descends upon that very same house and you wonder what on earth you spent your time doing when there was no little person around filling your every minute.
The checkouts are busy. No, they are overwhelmed. So despite having a full trolly we go for the self service check outs. In the style of a Hannah Barberra cartoon, where a mini devil sits on one of the character's shoulders while a mini angel sits on the other, voices debate in my head as I make this choice.
There was a loud sigh, the sound of snoring and then a sudden jolt as he jumped, waking himself and his wife up. Yes, the other evening it was another dad who fell asleep first during the relaxation session at the end of one of our Wise Hippo hypnobirthing classes. And you know what? It's so often the way!
We are all guilty of it. All shamefaced at the occasional aimless phone surfing, but when it gets to the point when you are looking at your phone whilst brushing your own teeth, you need to have a think about your life. Switch it off. Shift your brain from the outside world and bring it in to your world for a minute. And your family's.
You try making conversation, but none develops. Your hopes of meeting new people, making new friends, forming bonds with other parents for the sake of your child are dwindling. You end up sitting alone in a corner, watching your child play alone while all around a community you long to be a part of continues on oblivious.