(Image source: Twitter)
I’ve been watching The Prancing Elites Project on All4. It’s my latest obsession; I watched the entire first season while dying on the sofa last night (I currently have the flu. Boo).
In Season 2 Episode 5, Kentrell finds out that his father has been diagnosed with cancer. His father walked out on him and his mum when Kentrell was just 8 years old and hasn’t shown much of an interest in his son since. Kentrell finds it infuriating that his father now wants him to show up for him when he never showed up for his son; he never went to Kentrell’s graduation from high school or dancing academy. As Kentrell is airing these frustrations to his mum, she says to him:
maybe you should be the bigger person and show up for him
Now, as much as I get that this was said with the best intentions, I’m constantly stressing about why children are expected to “show up” for their parents; why are we the ones who are expected to be the adults in familial relationships? Why are we the ones who have to show our parents how to behave?
I haven’t heard from my mother since I told her not to talk to me until she decides that she wants to be a proper mother for me, which was earlier this year, and considering that she’s now in her sixties and her health isn’t great anyway, I often wonder what I will do in the situation where her health deteriorates, or when she eventually passes away. What will I do? I don’t see us reconciling ever again (and that’s not me being pessimistic, that’s me being realistic that she can never give me what I need as her daughter and I deserve better than what she has to offer). I honestly do not know what I will do when the situation arises, but I no longer let this concern keep me up at night.
I don’t know what Kentrell is going to do yet about his father. If I was in his shoes, I’d probably tell him to fuck off and carry on living the life I’ve been living without him.
A few episodes later, Kentrell meets up with his father. It’s actually quite a distressing scene: his father at first, refuses to acknowledge his wrongs and plays the victim. Yes he has cancer, however he blames his children for the fact that he has to go through it alone and refuses to accept responsibility. I think he even wails that none of his ten(?) children want anything to do with him and blames THEM for that and not himself. At one point, he even walks out when his son questions him about his past violence. To be fair, he does come back, but then again instead of being willing to answer his son’s questions, he asks for the past to be left in the past and once he receives that confirmation, he THEN says sorry. This leaving shit in the past and requesting forgiveness really irks me because I feel like this is the kind of psychologically manipulative shit that parents like this pull when they want to continue to play the victim.
Another member of the dance group, Jerel also happens to be going through a similar problematic reconciliation with his estranged father. After Jerel came out as gay as an adolescent, his father abused him both psychologically and physically – even threatening to kill him for being gay and holding a gun to his head. After many years of not speaking, his father reaches out to him and Jerel decides that they should meet up to talk things through. Unfortunately, his father stands him up and Jerel calls his mum in tears who then rushes to console him. I stan his mum forever because as she comforts him, she reminds him that HE is the child and is not responsible for showing up for his father. I wish that more parents were as aware of the roles of parent and child as Jerel’s mum clearly is.