I’ve expanded my TV repertoire from all HGTV all the time, to the food network, specifically Chopped.  I like HGTV because nothing bad happens except dry rot and old plumbing. Bad things happen on Chopped, but no one gets gunned down, is tortured or has their child kidnapped in a foreign country. Anyway… so, Chopped.

tartare with lampuga fish, celery and food garnish

The premise is that four selected chefs have to make something not only edible, but delicious and beautiful from wacky ingredients they are given in a closed basket. I don’t stop being amazed that they instinctively combine what they get into something I want pick up the phone and order from my couch. The items are incredibly random like popcorn, creamy fish eggs, liquid red candy or cheap wine coolers. The baskets usually have one appropriate normal thing like lamb shanks or pound cake. Naturally, Chopped reminds me of counselors in treatment centers.

A dear mom with a son freshly in rehab expressed worry that her son would charm the staff with his lies and B.S. as was his addicted habit — and that they would fall for it. That is a real concern because as parents of addicted children we fell for that for years.

The good news I offered to this dear mom is three-fold. 1) Treatment counselors and staff are professionals and we are not. They went to school to learn addiction and how to unscramble the spaghetti of it. 2) Many if not most treatment staff are recovering addicts. “You can’t kid a kidder,” as my father used to say, interestingly an alcoholic himself. Having perfected the art of B.S., they can smell it a mile away. 3) The treatment counselors actually care about your loved one. They picked this career path, not to rock out on a stage and collect a bazillion dollars, but to unravel a brain and offer a hopeful solution. They’ll never be millionaires off your child’s issues.

When we drop off our son or daughter at treatment, we bring the selected chefs a basket of weird ingredients with one appropriate normal thing — the memory of our child as we used to know him; delightful, curious and engaged.

When Ted was in treatment, my friend Cindy said, “Aren’t you so thankful for people who feel called to work in this field?”  Yes, Cindy, I am. Every single night, on my knees.