difficult child's paternal grandma just sent me this, thanking me for being a "Debbie". I want to share it with my fellow "Debbies". Sunday morning: Fox Television talking heads are prattling about whether Speedo or Wheaties will offer Michael Phelps the biggest treasure. Somehow this seems déclassé and stupid. Only a few hours have passed since Phelps swam into eternity eclipsing the incomparable Mark Spitz of '76. Eventually someone may get around to the real glory in Phelps' galactic win for the ages. It began in the early 90's in Towson, Maryland, and it began badly. Phelps father left home, leaving Deb Phelps a woman alone, facing reality as she knew it. At about the same time, she learned why Michael was a behavioral challenge. He was diagnosed ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder). This explained her son's inability to focus, his animated behavior and worst of all, his dim academic prospects. But Debbie Phelps had been honored as "teacher of the year," twice. She wasn't about to go quietly. When one of Michael's teachers laconically commented (as too many teachers habitually do) "Mrs. Phelps, Michael can't do that," her reply was always the same. "Well, what are you doing to help him?" Classmates made fun of his big ears and gangly proportion. Through the pain, Debbie Phelps doubled her resolve. In time, with medication and behavior modification Michael coped, and through his mother's instinct and relentless vigilance, he took to the pools of Towson. Rigid schedules for weekends and holidays meant that Phelps had little time for drifting, instead, pushing his endurance and skills steadily onward. Debbie Phelps would have it no other way. Coach Bob Bowman saw Phelps' potential and accepted him as a student, though Michael still hesitated to submerge his face, swimming mostly on his back for months which his mother says is likely behind his backstroke mastery. From Towson to competitions everywhere, suddenly propelling him to the 2004 Olympics then on to the University of Michigan where he submitted to the rigors of exhausting discipline under the aegis of Bowman and the Wolverine program. This past weekend Michael Phelps swam into history, his gift to his sport similar to the gift endowed to basketball by Michael Jordan: an icon for any kid who will ever step into a pool. Given the life and times of Michael Phelps, somehow missing from the trophy case are eight Gold Medals for his mother, without whom none of it could ever have happened. For the rest of us, three lessons emerge beyond Speedo or Wheaties contracts: First, four million children are ADHD, and who knows how many adults working next to us? Debbie Phelps is a national icon in her own right, teaching us that no kid should ever slip through the cracks. Lesson number two: relatively speaking, Phelps and rare people like him prove that it's really not crowded at the top, simply because so few are willing to do what it take reach the summit. Finally, we learn that in the most desperate competition, under the toughest circumstance, the winning edge may be the thinnest slice of motion, as Phelps proved in his dramatic 100th of a second win in the 100 meter butterfly. One one-hundredth! I've already forgotten the guy who finished second.