I lo-ove the TV show, Brothers and Sisters on ABC, that airs Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m.
This entry is my reaction to fans of the show over at abc.go.com since the episode of “Light the Lights”.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS Little Sister
How We Are Accepted Inside Our Family
“Light the Lights” episode of Brothers and Sisters aired on Dec 10, 2006
Here is my response to the bloggers who felt the writing of Paige was too emotional, maudlin and where this takes my thinking.
How we respond to anything has as much to do with what WE bring to the “scene” as what the “scene” brings TO us. Children aren’t all the same, they are individuals, just like adolescents, young adults and the rest of us . . . children, in grown-up bodies. I disagree with objections by some bloggers’ claims. These include the criticism of maudlin and overly sweet scene writing with Paige, Paige’s acting and the too-much-time spent on a child within the context of Brothers and Sisters’ TV family. The Walker family obviously treat the Walker real-age children as equals in relation to the “importance” meter. My thinking is that children need to be allowed to be themselves . . . anything they feel is right . . . feelings can’t be wrong. At abc.go.com, Brothers and Sisters writers’ blog, a few fans have been outspoken with their dissatisfaction and here I would like to give my extended thoughts. Maybe, the criticisms might be valid if family could exist without children of children-age-children as a part of the whole family. But in truth, children and grandchildren are a part of this thing – family. And how we treat them inside the family says a lot about who we are. Are we, the viewers, so controlling and narcissistic that we demand a sterile portrayal of the Walker family of only adult Brothers and Sisters?
And creativity must be given room to be or it dies. The effect of fans picking apart bits and pieces of a creative production is more self-serving than positive. Do we really want the creators, writers and producers of this REALLY Good Show to have to second guess themselves as they work on these wonderful character developments and story lines? Not all fans agree with one another, so which ones are we asking “those in control” to take to heart? Creativity doesn’t do well while feeling controlled and stifled. You must feel free to be able to create. You can’t clip the metaphorical wings of a creative person and then ask them to soar. I’m thinking maybe, we the fans, could find a more realistic perspective on what we ask of this show to do for us.
Back to the Paige issues . . .
Children can be a diverse mix of characteristics and gifts. They can be precocious, wise be beyond their years, sophisticated or not and a host of other things that we all carry into our adult years. But one thing they are better at, than we are, is to be close to who they REALLY ARE, less pretentious and closer to the truth. Their truth. They are closer to their REAL feelings. And they can admit they don’t know something and pose questions openly IF they are lucky enough to have that welcomed within the context of family. That is where they learn that it is right and it is okay to be fully who they are. That is where we all learn that it is safe to be ourselves, OR NOT. Children will and do ask simple and to-the-point questions such as “Why am I a child who was given diabetes?” Didn’t any of us – adult children – ever ask these kinds of questions as we were developing our identity? If you are a child who knows you are gay, today, do you ever ask the question, “Why me?” Or do you go right to accepting it and being bold to put yourself out there? I doubt that happens a lot. I can only imagine, being that I am straight, but my intuition feels there probably is a lot of questioning,confusion and anxiety going on. Would anyone like to speak to this?
As a child, I had my own crosses to bear. And I had simple but heart-wrenching questions. I cried through them. I stuffed them. And I had no mother, father, grandmother, sister, brother, uncle or any other person who provided me with the safe place to pose these questions. It was painful. And it didn’t have to be so painful. But when we don’t have people in our lives who are at the ready to give us that wonderful place of comfort and space to breathe freely enough to have our concerns attended to – it can be lonely, empty, cold, painful and dangerously insular.
I would think that anyone who has to grow up feeling different in any way would have the capacity to understand and feel empathy for a child with questions, no matter how maudlin or flat it is to us – “the old children”.
I didn’t find Paige, anything, other than Paige. She is a sweet, thoughtful and a somewhat witty little girl. Personally, I think she holds her own quite well among the established and adult actors on Brothers and Sisters. She is a child. Are we asking her to be an adult in a child’s character? And the protectiveness and overreaction of Grandma Nora was okay for my believability range.
I simply don’t agree with the fuss over the treatment of Paige’s character, role and the amount of time spent on the window into her mind, her questioning and her spirit. As well, I don’t object to the attention given to Kevin’s situation, having to grow up and know he was gay as a child. I welcome thinking about how difficult it was for him. Being a child. Knowing he wasn’t the boy that fit the mold expected by the rest of the family, his world, as well as his broader world at school and all else. And in the same vein, I welcome the child of Paige and her search for her truth whether it be about her Jewish knowledge or her acceptance of a lifetime illness of diabetes. Children shouldn’t be required to be what we need them to be. They simply should be allowed to be. Who she or he is. Without imposing upon them our needs for what they should be.
For me, when I was a little girl, I was never encouraged to be me. . . with all of my colorful colors. I felt suffocated. When I told my brother that once, well into my adult years, he was surprised that I felt this and said that he had also felt suffocated. As a young child, adolescent and beyond, I was and have been told what to think, what to say, how to act toward others, what to believe, when I am wrong according to someone else’s belief standards – and very poignantly given the message that my role was to be invisible and be the source of happiness for ____________. This is quite a public forum. My name is not on this blog but is easily found out in webspace. So it takes a lot to open up like this. My intent is not to hurt my family members by opening up and being truthful in these blog entries. But I decided within this last year of my life to live fully in my truth. The mantra that I created for myself is:
Live in the light of truth
Truth is your strength
Living in your truth is your integrity
Anxiety can’t live where truth is your guide.
I love your strength
I love your truth
I love your integrity.
I got tired of being me without the total freedom to be all of me.
I found the only way to have peace and get rid of the anxiety created in me - from always waiting to be accepted by my family - was to be willing to live in my truth. . . Whether it lined up with my family members’ code of expectations of me or not
. And I knew where this “living in my own truth” is – it is in the or not
It isn’t easy being a kid. It gets harder every single year. Kids today have so much to deal with. Things that I didn’t have to deal with when I was a kid. This means they have more to handle and more pressures than my generation without the advantage of time-worn skills honed from years of the Education of Life. I just don’t get why a child’s confusion and questioning of what is eating them shouldn’t be given the level of importance that Paige’s was in the episode “Light the Lights”.
Having taught tens of thousands of kids from age 5 – 13 years old in the public schools, I had a variety of situations and personalities that crossed my path. Children from abusive homes, foster children who believed they were at fault for their parents’ failures to parent them and who parented their own parents out of necessity, children left alone for days, children who came to school every day after being molested by a brother, and then the children who were catered to and given way too much, as well as the emotionally healthy children AND all those children who tried to ACT like they were one of the emotionally healthy children, but they carried secrets in their hearts.
None of us should be required to carry secrets. It is carrying the secret that can kill us. And yet so many families require children to keep the family secrets. My family’s secret is that we can’t talk to one another about feelings, if they are feelings to do with one another. There it is. This is brave of me to say here. Because my family is supposed to look perfect. But it is broken. I made a conscious decision in August of this year to be honest. I felt it was time to step out of the shadow of my family’s secret. And it set me free. I love my life now because I live that decision out. I imagine it is, in a small way, like a gay person coming out of the closet. I am out of my closeted life. I had the talk with the-main-family-person that stood in my way of fully being me and though it was tough and raw and I received ugly words – I left free. I walked away believing I did the best I could expressing my feelings. I had my self-respect. I said my truth without meanness or malice and though it was not received in the way intended, I knew that I did the part that I had control over and the rest was not mine to own. It has liberated me like nothing else has ever done.
I hope you who read this have found or will find your way to your freedom. Having lived through dark periods in my personal life, I now walk with a light step, with a smile on my face all the time and when someone asks me that question that never really wants a truthful pouring-out-of-the-heart answer, the question of “How are you?” I quickly, impulsively, truthfully, answer, “I’m just great!” And I mean it. There was a period of time that I dreaded when people asked me that question. I have never been more at peace or happy or so “at home” in myself. Truthfulness and peacefulness come only with the other.
When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown,
faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen:
Either you will be given something to stand on
You will be taught to fly.
When you stand
Stand in your truth
And you will fly.
No blog entry of mine can go by without mentioning Matthew Rhys. I love every scene that he is in as Kevin Walker. And I do miss Luke MacFarlane as Scotty Wandell and Kevin’s lover.
If you want to know more about my musings and affections for Matthew as Kevin and Luke as Scotty, go over to my blog at tvguide.com as ilovemylife.