There is no university of fatherhood

You can become a surgeon, electrician, florist, surveyor, butcher or astronaut. It is taught. How do you learn to be a father? It’s the most common job in the world. But there is no school where you can learn to be a father.

Posted at 5:00 am

We learn by example.

The first example is his own father. I learned presence from myself. He was there. You only notice that later, when you become a man, when you become a father. When you understand that in our crazy lives, just being there is more complicated than it seems.

I have my father’s picture behind the gate, in the arena, always there.

I wish he had taught me the words. I wish we had talked more. He couldn’t give what he didn’t have, man of his time. He loved me and I’m rich for it.

There is no school where you become a father, no paternity university that hands out diplomas to proudly hang on the wall. We learn by example. That of his own father, whom we want to emulate or move away from. There are other fathers…

I met Yvon Creton when I was preparing a series on I don’t know what, in MontrealJournal. Was it about love or fatherhood? It’s been ages, don’t ask me too many details…

But someone referred me to Yvon for a paternity anecdote straight out of a movie. I called him.

It goes like this…

After the divorce, Yvon had two young children for whom he had sole custody. One day Yvon had a new girlfriend. Everything was good. The blonde lived with Yvon and the children.

Everything was good ?

Yvon believed him.

The kids weren’t doing so well. Didn’t answer questions about her discomfort. But they had… They had changed, that was it.

And one evening one of them opened…

“Your girlfriend, Dad, she doesn’t get along well with us when you’re not here. »

Oh, nothing you could call DPJ. I’m just saying that Yvon’s kids made Madame sweat, and she didn’t hesitate to let the kids feel that when Yvon was working at his restaurant in Old Montreal (and he was working a lot).

I’m talking about little abruptnesses, ugly words spoken here and there.

The confession shook Yvon to the depths of his soul. He didn’t know what to do with it, maybe he could negotiate with Madame, argue with her…

He loved his children more than anything.

He loved madam very much.

In his soul and conscience, Yvon took the matter with him without really knowing what to do. What are you doing during this time? There is no university for fatherhood. One day Yvon was driving his car in his head. At that time, mobile phones started to become popular. Yvon had one in his car. Madam sat next to him. The light was red.

A truck belonging to Clan Panneton, the moving company, drove by on the street.

And then it became clear.

Yvon picked up the phone, he called Clan Panneton – the number he had memorized – just down the street corner.

“It’s for a move… What day? Morning. »

His girlfriend looked at him curiously.

Yvon turned to her, asked her:

“Have you got your clothes and chest of drawers at home?”

– Um yeah…”

Yvon returned to his conversation with Clan Panneton:

“A chest of drawers and clothes. »

He hung up, he looked at his girlfriend:

“You’re leaving tomorrow. »

Let’s say it had been a very strong piece of history.

This story influenced my learning as a father. Less about coping with love affairs after the separation and more about the primacy of the child’s well-being in the order of priorities in your life as a father. If your children are not well, you will never be quite well…

Act accordingly. And in the absence of a result obligation, you have a means obligation.

(I’ll add an afterthought here: This isn’t a gendered comment about moms, I’m sure moms do the same. Only, I’m not a mom, I can only speak from a mom’s perspective. ‘a dad.)

So Yvon loved this woman, but it wasn’t this woman above with his children… Clan Panneton did the rest.

Yvon’s two children grew up, grew up. Like all father-child relationships, his relationship with them, as with his other two children, is full of ups and downs. He did his best.

Yvon sold the restaurant in the Vieux, he set up another in Westmount a few years ago where his children worked. He wanted to leave them “something” with this restaurant. But the restaurant never worked, leaving a significant hole in Yvon’s legacy. Restoration is an expensive priesthood. In the end, Yvon closed the doors.

Earlier this spring I went to the Vieux with Yvon for a coffee. He had come from his far country one Saturday morning to see his son Raphael. Raphaël has opened an adjacent bakery in the Bonsecours market, the Cave à manger.

The young man arrives early in the morning around 5 a.m., prepares the baguettes, the fougasses, the croissants, starts the coffee machine, cleans the terrace…

Like his father, Raphael chose the Restoration, that crazy priesthood.

I checked on Raph who was very busy setting up the trade for the day…

Yvon looked after him with immense pride in his eyes.

Yvon didn’t say much to Raph. And vice versa.

But Yvon was there like he always was.

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