Ask me what I want my seven grandchildren to be like when they get a little older and my quick answer would be, “Well not like Lindsay Lohan…” Her bad behavior on the set of the movie The Canyons, reported recently in The New York Times, and only the latest incidence of bad behavior, has everyone muttering “train wreck,” again.
It seems Lindsay cannot stop drinking and partying and being difficult to work with. As a grandparent, I read her about her actions and I want to both hug her and shake her.
Some of her behavior is typical movie star. She isn’t Tinseltown’s only difficult actor. But the drinking and drugging and partying and stealing and arrests and court dates and escalating self-destruction?
These are the actions of a girl in trouble.
And it makes this grandmother sad.
No, I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up and act like Lindsay Lohan. But if they did, I would be there for them. And if she were my granddaughter, here’s what I’d say:
1. People survive bad childhoods, it’s time to survive yours. Your childhood was not easy, Lindsay, but don’t let it define you. Your parents fought. They put you in the middle. They argued publicly about the money you made for them. You have been working since you were three, always being judged for your looks, your ability to go along and get along. Your childhood vanished before it even started. This is all hard. Really, really hard. But that was then. Take one last look at your troubled past, then shut the door and lock it. Revisiting what was doesn’t change anything in the here and now. It’s time to move on.
2. Stop fulfilling the media’s idea of who you are. You are not the single-dimension human being the media depicts. They always show you getting into trouble—smoking, drinking, going off the rails. But you are a smart, complex, multi-layered, beautiful young woman who has way too much going for her to throw it all away. Please, think about your actions. Before you do something—anything, take a minute to think about it and whether or not it truly reflects who you are.
3. Find an adult you can rely on. You’ve had your ups and downs with your parents, and they have their own issues. I get that. What’s best for you right now is to find someone who loves you in your life, someone who wants nothing from you. You need a mentor who is older and wiser, who wants only one thing: for you to be happy. Find that person, then keep them close.
4. It’s time to give acting a rest. You do not have to be an actor, Lindsay. It’s a big world out there. I know you are interested in the world and in growing into the person you are meant to be, because I read you on Twitter. “Learning one day at a time,” you posted next to your name. You can’t learn in a business that feeds on your mistakes, that takes pleasure in your failures. The audio released a few days ago where you curse your Canyons co-star for not doing his job? Why is this “news?” Where else in the world outside of celebrity does what is said in a job not only become public, but is pillory and entertainment, too? You do not need this. You do not need your every action recorded and dissected and twisted.
Go dark, Lindsay. Get off the grid. Don’t tweet. Drop out. Go away. Figure out what you love, then pursue it. Search for it and do it, and you won’t need drugs and alcohol and parties and other people and living on the edge to fill the empty space inside you. I promise you. You have been marching to the beat of someone else’s drum since you were three years old. Bang your own drum. I think you will like the sound.
5. I love you. Love is like combat boots, Lindsay. They can’t do the walking for you, but they can sure make a long march over rough terrain a lot easier. I am your combat boots. I loved you when you were little and easy to love, and I love you now because love doesn’t turn on its heels when times are tough. You make it hard, though. Year after year I have watched you fall into the same traps, make the same mistakes. I am worried about you. I am terrified for you. Please, I beg you, listen to me. It’s time to start again.
Beverly Beckham is the author of A Gift of Time, a collection of personal essays, Back Then, a memoir of childhood, is a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, is on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, and writes a weekly column for The Boston Globe. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Bruce, and has three children and seven grandchildren.