Your Parents Are Human, Too

“Initially I had a conversation with a couple mates about it – so later on, I asked them again and wrote their responses down, then just had it as one question and asked a couple people round uni, work, soccer and an old teacher too” says Scott Renton of these responses he received to the question “at what point did you realise your parents were human?”

“My parents got divorced when I was 14, which I didn’t really understand at the time. They mostly kept it under wraps. My Dad ended up re-marrying when I was 22, and Mum was at the ceremony. It was sort of strange seeing Dad with another woman but Mum hugged him and congratulated him afterwards. They’re still friends, there’s no bad blood there, but it made me realise that I had always perceived them as sort of… a singular entity – ‘Mum and Dad’, you know? It wasn’t until Dad got married again to someone else that I realised they were just two people.”

“I was at my uncle’s funeral (dad’s brother). My dad was doing the eulogy and about half way through he broke down. I’d seen him do eulogies before and get through okay but this time he just lost it and I remember looking at my brothers and thinking “fuck, the way I would feel if one of my brothers died is exactly how my dad is feeling right now” and I broke down too.”

“No, yeah I understand what you’re asking, I just… It was when my Dad passed away. He was sick for a long time, so it wasn’t a shock for my family or anything at the time, but it made me see how fragile life can be for everybody. Your Dad is like this invincible super hero when you’re a kid – in a way not quite human – but when you see him deteriorate and eventually pass away it kind of makes you see that no matter how special someone is, we’re all just human beings, and the circle of life affects everyone in the same way.”

“I reckon it would have been when I turned 18. On my birthday my Dad took me to the pub and we had lunch and a few beers, we just talked about sport and stuff initially but eventually we got onto stuff like girls and life and death and all that. He went from my Dad to my friend in a matter of hours, which was awesome.”

“I think it happens with like, a disagreement. Not on a matter of opinion or topic, but when you disagree on a like, instinctive level with something your parents do I think that’s when you know they’re just people too. For example, we were at a dinner party once and I was just watching my Dad talking to people and I remember thinking like, “what are you doing? That’s not how you should be acting, that’s not what you should be saying” … all in a social context. But it was kind of like, sometimes you see people on TV say stuff and you’re thinking “no you can’t say that, that isn’t okay”, or something, but then when you see your own Dad doing it, you realise that he isn’t this like, beacon of righteousness, he has flaws, just like everyone else. Does that make sense?”

“Oh I think I know what you mean… my parents were going through a bad spell a couple of years back, they would start arguing over stupid shit and it would turn into a screaming match. I hated it. Anyway one day I was home and they started yelling, which wasn’t unusual, but Mum said something I didn’t hear and my Dad was like, “that was 20 fucking years ago leave it alone”. It stuck in my mind because it made me think about how my parents had lives before I was born. Like I always knew they did, obviously, but the reality of it, I guess, didn’t occur to me until they brought it up between them. That made me realise they were human, and not just my parents, if that makes sense.”

“I think it was the first, and only, time I saw my Mum cry. We were at my Uncle’s house for Christmas and she fell down some stairs in the backyard and broke her arm pretty badly. She was freaking out a little and started crying. I’d never seen her like that before. It was a bit of a sobering moment, for lack of a better word.”

“I think it has to be a moment of weakness… like a person’s… human-ness I guess is shown with like, raw emotion. My Dad cried at my Grandpa’s funeral and I had never seen him like that before. He isn’t really one to let his feelings show, so when he let it all out like that I saw that he wasn’t just like, my Dad, he’s just another human being too.”

“It would have been one night a few months ago. I remember it really, really clearly, although I suppose that’s because it wasn’t that long ago. Anyway, my parents have been married for ages, but they were in a pretty bad place as a couple – fighting all the time, snide remarks here and there, just being generally cold to one another – it sucked. But yeah this night they were fighting and it was really bad, like the worst I’ve ever seen them. They were screaming for such a long time, they were at each other’s throats yelling shit that I wouldn’t say to like, my worst enemy, let alone my partner. Like they’re meant to be in love, but it was as if they hated each other. I had to separate them, like physically step in between them and separate them, but they kept going. My brother was at a friend’s house, luckily, so I just left, drove around for hours. I turned my phone off. I was driving really fast at different points; I was bawling my eyes out. I’m not even sure why, I think it was more shock than sadness. I can accept the idea of my parents not being together but like, I felt like I witnessed pure hatred between two people who I never thought possible. Anyway I got home in the morning and they apologised, but I didn’t say a word to them for a few days. They’re civil now, and they’re still married, but I can tell it’s more for my brother and I. They’re not happy. When you can see all these emotions on people who always kept things together during your childhood it’s pretty real. It lets you see that they’re regular people, with their own personal struggles and stuff. It makes me feel guilty knowing that they’re throwing away their own happiness in order to keep my world, and my brother’s world intact. It’s so clear to me and it’s so selfless, but it’s kinda hollow. And I think that’s pretty human.”

Interviews conducted by Scott Renton

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