There is no such thing as a Fatherhood College

You can learn to be a surgeon, electrician, florist, surveyor, butcher, astronaut. It is taught. How to learn to be a father? It is the most common job in the world. However, there is no school where you can learn to be a parent.

Posted at 5 am.

We learn by example.

The first example is your own father. With mine, I learned presence. He was there. It’s later that you realize, when you become a man, when you become a father. When you understand that in our crazy lives, just being there, present, is more complicated than it seems.

I have the image of my father behind the goal, in the arena, always there.

I wish he had taught me the words. I wish we could talk 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 parent, no University of Parenting that hands out degrees that you proudly hang on the wall. We learn by example. That of the father himself, whom we want to imitate or from whom we want to distance ourselves. There are also other parents…

I met Yvon Creton when I was preparing a series about I don’t know what, in Montreal newspaper. Was it about love or parenthood? That was a lifetime ago, don’t ask me too many details…

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

It goes like this…

Yvon had two young children, of whom she had primary custody, after their divorce. Yvon had a new girlfriend one day. Everything was fine. The blonde lived with Yvon and the children.

Was everything okay?

Yvon believed him.

The kids weren’t doing so well. She didn’t answer questions about her discomfort. But they had… They had changed, that’s all.

And one night, one of them ended up opening…

“Your girlfriend, Dad, she’s not nice to us when you’re not here. »

Ah, nothing to call the DPJ. I’m just saying that Yvon’s kids made Madame sweat, and she didn’t hesitate to make the kids feel that way when Yvon worked at her restaurant in Old Montreal (and he worked a lot).

I’m talking about little brusqueness, nasty words thrown here and there.

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

He loved his children more than anything.

He loved Madame very much.

In her soul and conscience, Yvon took the matter as advice, not really knowing what to do. What are you doing in this time? There is no Fatherhood University. One day, Yvon was driving his car, all in his thoughts. That’s when cell phones started to become popular. Yvon had one in his car. Madame was sitting next to him. The light was red.

A truck from Clan Panneton, the moving company, passed on the street.

And then things became clear.

Yvon picked up the receiver, dialed Clan Panneton – he’d memorized the phone number – right there on the street corner.

“It’s for a change… What day? Tomorrow. »

His girlfriend looked at him curiously.

Yvon turned to her, asked her:

“At home, do you have your clothes and your dresser?”

– Hum yes… “

Yvon returned to his conversation with Clan Panneton:

“A dresser and clothes. »

He hung up, looked at his girlfriend:

“You leave tomorrow. »

It was a very strong chronicle, let’s say.

This story informed my learning as a father. Not so much in the management of post-separation love affairs, but in the primacy of the children’s well-being in the order of priorities of his life as a father. If your kids aren’t okay, you’ll never be completely okay…

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

(I add a postscript here: this is not a gender comment about mothers, I’m sure mothers do the same. Only I’m not a mother, I can only speak from a mother’s point of view. ‘a father.)

Yvon therefore loved this woman, but this woman was not top with your children… Clan Panneton did the rest.

Yvon’s two children grew up, became adults. Your relationship with them, as with your two other children, is like all parent-child relationships, full of ups and downs. He did his best.

Yvon sold the restaurant in the Vieux, founded another in Westmount a few years ago where his sons worked. With this restaurant, he wanted to leave them “something”. But the restaurant never worked, leaving a considerable hole in Yvon’s heritage. Restoration is an expensive priesthood. Yvon ended up closing the doors.

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

The young man arrives at dawn, around 5 am, prepares baguettes, fougasses, croissants, turns on the coffee machine, cleans the terrace…

Like his father, Raphaël chose restoration, this crazy priesthood.

I watched Raph go, too busy getting ready for the day trade…

Yvon watched him go too, with immense pride in her eyes.

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

But Yvon was there, as he always was.

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