Archive for February, 2011


Dig in

February 28, 2011

Before we begin today a few items of  business:

1. TriDigest: As you know I have been doing some writing for the awesome website TriDigest. Please check out my latest article here! Bookmark this site, it’s a great one and I will be contributing regularly!

2. Yoga For Athletes: Our ever popular Yoga and Nutrition for Athletes series is back at Breathe! It’s $45 for three sessions, where you will learn how to properly fuel your active lifestyle as well as the 25 minute Power Yoga For Athletes sequence that I developed! I have changed things up a bit and added in some great new poses to help keep you fit, flexible and on the move in just 25 minutes a few times a week! I am very excited to agin be teaching this with Lauri Boone, Registered Sports Dietician at Breathe!

    This series will be held Tuesday April 26th, May 3rd and May 10th from 7:30-8:45pm

    $45 for the entire session

       Please call 585.248.9070 to reserve your space today.

3. Webinars: Speaking of nutrition, due to illness we rescheduled our Nutrition Webinar to Sunday March 13th at 8pm. Please click here for our revised schedule. Krista Jones, Registered Dietician and sports nutritionist will be co hosting with me! Presented in conjunction with Score-This …… this is Western New York’s most popular webinar series all free, and we’ve got several coming up!  

Whew. It’s been a busy season so far, our 2011 team is ready to go, we’ve got new gear and there are over 40 of us running around Western New York! With four coaches and a soon to be announced 5th coach…… we are extremely proud to be where we are! We put a lot into our athletes and their programs…… we are mighty proud of them! Thanks for your support!

Onto the blog………………………………………….

Sunday was my run test. I will admit to being nervous. I don’t know if I would call it nerves but anticipation + excitement perhaps? A feeling of let’s see if we can do this maybe?

It was in lieu of a 5K. I am sorry, but we got ten inches of snow this week. I am not running a 5K in snow. I retired my winter coat. I am just done. I chose, I know….. chose to do this on the treadmill.

Please don’t think my treadmill is warm. It’s in my garage for god’s sake. This was not about staying warm. This was about coming toe to toe with me.

Printed results don’t really matter to me. I have had great ones, I have had terrible ones. In newspapers, magazines, published everywhere. That doesn’t matter to me. Again it comes back to the woman who looks back at me in the mirror. If I fail her, I care. I am not running sub three-hour marathons here……. but I am improving. That’s what matters.

The Wizard assigned my paces for the first mile. I know where to go from there. Until this season I have never done treadmill mile repeats. I can’t say they are a feel-good workout…… until you finish the final one. Then it feels good. I need to do this in this way. I need to face myself  first. I need to run for me. If I can execute this in my cold dark garage alone……. then I can do this next to you.

I wrote it on FaceBook. “Run test today. I am going to run a pace I have never seen.” and then I took a deep breath.

There was one award today. It was first place or nothing. I am willing to lay it down and walk away for nothing. The pace The Wizard assigned was daunting. That’s a number I haven’t seen in a long time. Like a really long time. At least try he said. At least try I said. what’s the worst thing that could happen? My heart could explode. I have already been through that, and lived. Next worst thing….. I could throw up. I have spent Ironmans throwing up and still finished. I am not afraid of throwing up.

I am not afraid of dying and I am not afraid of throwing up.

Let’s do this then.

I executed my pre race breakfast. If we are going to do this we are going to do it the right way. Controlling everything I can control. Which is fueling. Since last November’s vomit fest at IMFL the wizard has me executing a certain nutrition plan each and every time I train and race. No exceptions.

The hard part was waiting. I timed nutrition all out like we do on race day, I wanted to just get started already, I had time to get started already but I made myself wait. If we are going to do this we are going to do it right.

30 minutes to go and Curt asks me why I don’t just get started already. I tell him I am treating it as a race and start time is 0900. He rolls his eyes. Listen mister i bang out a 9:53 ironman at age 53…… i realize that the pace i am going to run is your walking pace, but sometimes I need to do what I need to do.

I got a FB message from my friend Chad. I don’t know where I met Chad. I think I met he and his wife on the steps at Lake Placid. There are a group of us who have been blog friends since before 2005. Chad’s done Kona a few times, he’s heading there in 2011. The way I wrote that makes it sound like Chad can just pop off Kona qualifying times like it’s nothing. It’s been everything but that for him. Those of us who know him know all of the near misses he’s had in relation to Kona, the if I were one minute faster, one day older, the near misses and disappointments. He has been incredibly patient. He knows…… he knows what it’s like. And I know that he’s pulling for me in what I strive to achieve. I know he knows the path. And I know he knows what I am capable of.

So I took that with me, and toed my start line.

15 minutes of warm up. I was nervous. Go time.

I ran that first mile in the time Jesse told me to. Half of me couldn’t believe it. The other half was still terrified. I took my recovery and then began again.

Mile 2 wasn’t so pretty. In fact I quit. I hit 2.0 and began to walk. I looked up at the wall, as part of me began to think I just don’t have it today my eyes hit those words.

I picked up where I left off. I was bout 14 seconds off pace. It got really ugly. I may have shouted a few times. I may not have. I made it. second mile was slower but I still had that first one.

I took extra recovery. I needed to pull it together. Okay Eggers, you know what you are good at, you are good at descending. I began my third mile at my previous week’s tempo pace. Every 2 tenths of a mile I dropped the pace by about 10 seconds until I hit that last 2 tenths at the first mile pace.

Better. Not perfect yet, but I did not quit. I wanted to quit. I did not quit.

It was not easy. It was not supposed to be. And I knew it.

Later on at breakfast I relayed my experience to Curt. I wondered why I could not hold that original pace. But overall this was still my fastest to date.

“Did your legs burn?” He asked.

“No.” I said.

“Did you feel like you’d fall off the back of the treadmill?” He asked.

“No.” I said.

“Then it was mental.”

Pause. Reflect. Holy crap he was right.

On that first one I don’t think I thought about anything. Then it got hard and I got mental.

Jesse agreed. “I know with 100 percent certainty its mental for you in that garage. Dig in.”

I smiled. I came out of that run test a mentally stronger athlete. I have a way to go to be able to dig in like I can when I swim and bike. I am on my way. I made it through a pace I had never run before. And while I faltered on the subsequent three I made progress.

A few years ago when I worked with one of my favorite coaches Trevor…… this is what we worked on. He had me run the Freezeroo’s to make me tougher. That’s why I was in the garage. To become tougher. If I did what I did today in the garage, alone…… maybe….. just maybe I can do it with other people in a race.

Dig in Eggers.

Now I know I am not talking about my paces and times. I don’t write them down here, they are available in the results. Why does it matter what my pace is? If I write that I ran a 5 minute mile….. and you don’t….. then you will dismiss the feelings that reading this stirs up within you….. the ones that resonate with you……. if you run anything slower. If I said my pace was 15 minutes and you were the 5 minute miler….. same exact thing.

Victory is personal. To some it’s a win, to other’s it’s breaking 15 minute miles. At the end of the day…… what does it matter? At the end of the day we are all just a bunch of athletes striving for our own personal best. What mine is …. is the same as what yours is….. regardless of our pace. It’s okay to have these kinds of feelings whether you are first or last. There is no level of athlete that you must be to have these feelings.

You are an athlete. Feel it.

Progress for me has been made. Progress will continue to be made. I validate it. The Wizard validates it. And on race day…….. I will dig in.



February 26, 2011

Triathlon coaching can be a complicated business. I have been in this sport so long I remember looking at a heart rate monitor and wondering what it was. I remember hearing of salt tablets and wondering if they were safe.

I remember the days of swim bike and run. When they were swim bike and run.

As an athlete and a coach I use power, heart rate, and paces to coach and to train. But I will never judge an athlete’s progress or lack thereof on a training stress score no matter how much data they upload, download, no matter what their power to weight ratio is….. no matter what.

This is not a math test.

I know…. I know, I have been to the clinics and certifications and read all the research on the graphs and the calculations and all of that. As a coach and as an athlete i have dipped too far into it at times and this is when I believe the athlete (including me) becomes a disconnected mess.

The standout moment from last season was when I asked one of my guys to race with a piece of tape over his powermeter display. Truthfully when we race with these things it’s data collection from our coaches, we just need to race. It’s a bird’s-eye view into how we execute a given plan, gives the coach a picture of what went right and or wrong so that when they hit the drawing board they can create the plan for us to train and race with. It’s not really for us.

My athlete refused. He couldn’t do it. And he got mad when I called him on it. More than that, I called myself on it. I taught him to be too dependant on it.

As a swimmer you know your body. There is no heart rate monitor, and there really isn’t a clock until you hit the wall. It’s not like you look at your watch mid length and know what pace you are swimming. You learn pace through training. You do it over and over and over again. It’s intrinsic. It’s in you. You just know. I think these days…. and like I said I am very guilty of this myself both as a coach and as an athlete….. is that we rely too much on external factors to determine what we are doing.

I began working with a fabulous athlete this season who came to me with seven HR zones and eight power zones. she said to me “What happened to just riding my bike?”  

Bingo sister. BINGO.

It’s what the top athletes do. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look:

Macca. Ironman Hawaii 2010. No HRM, no garmin.

“Rinny”, Ironman Hawaii 2010. No HRM, no Garmin.

1st overall female USAT Age Group Nationals Mandy McLane. No HRM, no garmin.

Those are just a few examples. I wear a HRM and a Garmin when I race. I will continue to do so. I collect data for my coach so he can have a good picture of my racing.

But I refuse to live by stress scores, v dots, ftps and all of that. It’s actually one of the many things I have learned working with QT2 and The Wizard. There is none of that there. We go by three heart rate zones. No 5a, no 6b. we have recovery, zone one, zone 2 and best sustainable effort.

As a coach I know when my athletes need recovery. I plan it every 3-4 weeks because I find that a planned recovery works better than a needed recovery. Recovering before you get into the hole is better than dragging them out of the hole.

Throughout my years of competing and coaching I have learned that simple is the way to go. Hard days hard, easy days easy. Progress is made through loading at the right time and then recovering from that load. The best progress is made from the athlete who gets to know their body.

Athletes who know their bodies will be the ones who find success. Who know it, deep deep down. All of the tools are good tools. They all help paint the picture. But the one who can paint the best picture, is the artist themselves. The athlete.



February 25, 2011

My third week through 5 X 1 mile best sustainable effort repeats on the treadmill. When i began the set three weeks ago I set the goal for what I would run at the completion of the set. I knew this was going to be hugely mental. If the mind believes it the body will do it.

Because 5 X 1 mile repeats are not hard enough, I needed to somehow make them harder. I needed to come out of this a new level of runner. Running has never been my strength yet I am determined to make it so. My toughness as a runner has been a focus of mine.

So let’s take away the things that can get in the way. No worrying about a crowded YMCA or a squeaky treadmill. People I know coming up to chat mid interval. A track that’s covered in ice. Traffic. It was above 50 outside, and 8pm. I stayed in the garage on the treadmill. No distractions. Just me, the treadmill, the mirror and one word on the wall. A word that would keep me in line.

When the going got tough I would look at that word. When my mind started to play tricks on me I would look at that word. It never got truly hard until the last 0.3 and I knew that I could hang on.

Over the past 3 weeks I am running these mile repeats consistently and almost a minute faster. I have one more 10 second drop to make before recovery. I know these improvements were some physical yet mostly the improvement was the space between my ears. This is the work that will matter in 8 weeks at camp. In 10 weeks on Thomas Drive. In a few more weeks after that along the Chesapeak bay and a few more weeks after that along those last 2 horrid miles of the Musselman.

I really believe the Wizard has put together the right plan for Mary Eggers. Intensity in February like this across the boards might seem crazy, but it’s what I am responding to. It’s lit a match inside of me. It’s eliminating the excuses, it’s making me go toe to toe with me. If I can do that in the bat cave, I can do that out there. While I might have a wicked case of cabin fever…… I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s causing my desire to absolutely B.U.R.N.

The cool thing for me about this season is the balance I have struck. The reason I remain a nurse is for that balance. There are so many facets to the things I do that my energy is evenly spread. It allows me to really focus when I need to focus on things like mile repeats. It allows me to focus when I need to focus on the people I take care of. It allows me to focus when I need to focus when it’s mom time.

I find that when I am too singularly focused it’s not healthy. And I ain’t the only one.

Things like recovery are not difficult for me. I treasure recovery weeks. The Wizard says it best…… if athletes took their recovery as seriously as they take their training they’d see even bigger gains. I have been at this long enough to understand that the recovery is the real key to improvement.

As a coach I can get anyone to commit physical suicide. As a coach I never have a problem getting an athlete to work hard. That’s very rarely the issue. The issue is getting them to commit to recovery weeks. Feet up, massage, excellent nutrition, couch time. Learning to handle the extra energy without getting cranky. That’s the real key to success.

But that’s another blog for another day.

As you look ahead at your season, what makes you burn with desire, what lights the flame within you, what keeps you motivated when the weather keeps getting worse and the groundhog predicts there are six more weeks of winter whether there is a shadow or not?

You will be told you are extreme, you are doing XX too early, doing XX too much. The only person who truly knows what lights your desire though and causes it to burn…… is you.


snow camp

February 23, 2011

I am not a worrier, but the past 2 days are filled with worry. I am the best at concealing it around our son. I worry about him this week. He’s attending an amazing winter camp. He’s snowshoeing, sledding, building snow forts, and yesterday he even learned how to cross-country ski.

It’s not a “special education” camp. It’s “Mainstream”. It’s my little slice of heaven. Well….. his.

Most of the camp counselors are in college for education, or teachers seeking jobs. Tons of them are special ed majors. This is the camp we go to in the summer. This is where we gather the evidence that he can not only function with the “regular kids”…. but he can thrive.

The past 2 days he’s gotten into the car smiling, exhausted, filling me full of the activities of the day. Before he came out of the lodge the counselor excitedly told me how he cross country skied, no poles, never fell, nailed it…… with excitement like it  was his own chid.

That’s how I always know we are in the right place.

I always debate on whether to do these school break camps. Of course I can be at home all week with him……. but where is he going to learn the stuff you learn at camp? If he doesnt’ want to go on a given day he does not have to. If he wants to come home he has the right to.

He got upset with me day one because I came early. Tuesday I came early and the counselors told me to go away. I went to have coffee.

Not only is he learning the physical skills….. he’s learning the social skills. He’s a social kid (which always confuses people….. kids on the spectrum are not ‘supposed’ to be). he can be a target because he’s so slightly different. There is a kid at camp who is picking on him. There is a kid on the bus who does the same. On the bus it’s Sam. At camp it’s Max.

There will be a Sam wherever you go. I told him. Even in triathlon….. there’s a girl who is like Sam to me. The one person who is just plain EVIL to you. They will be everywhere.

The key is to learn how to deal with the Sam, the Max, whomever it happens to be. There will always be one. Plain and simple, you ignore them. You don’t allow them to get under your skin. You allow them to sink themselves. They do….. every single time. It would almost be easier to just avoid him. To stay home with mom, but this is life. Life has these people. life has these circumstances.

Tuesday I asked if max gave him trouble. He started to…. Luc told me….. then I just ignored him. So he stopped.

That’s more important than anything else he learns at camp this week.

The excitement about the day of camp ahead is almost an energy too big for even me (is that possible?).  He’s got an awesome sled. He’s got warm snowpants. He’s in them all day long. His cheeks are red at the end of the day and his mouth is dirty with hot chocolate stains.

“The best day ever MOM!” He keeps saying when I pick him up.


When i drop him off I get teary eyed. Even at age 10. To watch him walk with his duffel bag, his sleds, his snow fort making equipment…… as he walks to the lodge with his counselor…. Dangerous Dan…… I see a boy who is making it. who has struggled and fought and who always will…… we all will in our own way.

Who can handle any Max or Sam in the world.


Staying Sane

February 21, 2011

Who is that? Why it’s me of course. I have an ass kicking tan and I have great scenery to look at. There are only three small issues with this image. I don’t have a pink helmet, I don’t have a pink bike, and I would never wear socks in my cycling shoes. Puh-LEASE. Now when this beautiful chick of a girl is in motion, her Pantene conditioned hair flows in the wind.

And I have control over the wind.

So here is my view for the next 8 or so weeks. I have made it 8 weeks thus far and I am hanging in there. This is the time of the season however, when…. well you know.

How do you survive these next eight weeks? Rides are getting longer, crotches are getting more sore and a massive case of cabin fever is really setting in. Or maybe it is just me. Here are a few tips for getting on without the road beneath you:

1. Give each session a purpose. By now you have spent several weeks in Endurance only mode. You know your endurance HR and zones like the back of your hand. Use the trainer as an oppertunity to get in some quality tempo work without needing to worry about things like traffic, road conditions, or stop lights. Give these workouts a try and see how they pass the time:

  • The ten minute tempo. After a 10-20 minute warm up insert 3-5 10 minute tempo efforts with a 5 min recovery period.
  • Climb your gears. Warm up 10-20 minutes then cycle through your gears. Keeping cadence between 88-92 spend one minute in each gear from easiest to hardest maintaining cadence. Recovery half the interval at a light gear and a cadence > 95.
  • Build your ride. One of my old coaches, “Coach T” taught me to always finish strong. So does my current coach. Using your HR see if you can divide the ride into sections with HR, this is fun because you can see how well you can control HR on the trainer. Through the first 10 minutes try to nab onto the bottom of your recovery HR zone and build, beat by beat to the top of it. Spend the next 20 minutes doing the same for your endurance zone, and the final 20 after that doing the same for your tempo zone. After a   cool down of about 5, you have spent about an hour learning to finish strong.

2. Ride with a buddy. Long rides getting a little too long to ride alone and keep your sanity? Some of the athletes on the Train-This Team gather at each other’s apartments and houses. families are used to 4am invaders! Nothing is better than passing the time with good company. You should see some of the pictures these kids send me!!!

3. Break it up. Another fun way to break up a ride is to insert sections of your run into it. For example if you have a 3 hour ride and a 30 minute run, why not  ride an hour, run ten minutes, three times? Of course this is likely done best with a  treadmill, as you’d have to spend the time bundling up each time you ran but it does wonders for breaking up the monotony.

4. Use TV to help you! Try watching a show real time. Choose a theme for commercials, as in during commercials you superspin, cycle through some tempo, maybe even stand up.  Give yourself short periods of time to focus on things. You can do the same thing with a good playlist as well.

5. Spinning. Make sure you read this to get the most out of your spinning class…. but don’t be afraid to jump into a class (again, please read before attending), there are people, there is music and I wouldn’t worry about the bike being a different style. Peter Reid trained on 4 bikes, it will help develop you as a more rounded athlete. Go and have fun!

Don’t  be afraid to be creative on the bike. I have said it before and I will say it again, the work done now is the work that matters most. don’t let the competition leave you behind out of the gate, be in front of them!


Double Webinar Sunday!!!!

February 20, 2011

It’s freezing out there folks! Tonight stay warm with us, as we present 2 30 minute webinars!

7pm Bike Basics:

This is an intro for those who are relatively new to the sport. We will cover:

  • What kind of bike do I need?
  • How do I structure and indoor trainer workout (brief overview of HR training)
  • How to structure a bike training program
  • Bike safety

8pm: How to prepare for a 2012 Ironman

  • Five tips to help you get ready!

These are free webinars and will last 30 minutes, and we will have a Q&A at the close of the presentation. The webinars  will be available for purchase next week for $4.99 a piece.

To register please email me at maryeggers “at” gmail “dot” com.

We will be accepting registration until 6:00pm, and we will be sending out the links at 4:30pm!


Your story

February 18, 2011

I am going to give you a piece of advice. For life. This is very important and in my very strong opinion it’s the most important piece of advice I can ever give you.


The only one who can do that…… is you.

Let me back up a few years. Two years ago, Feb 2009, Luc was struggling. He’d been struggling for years. He was a special education child trapped in mainstream education freaking hell. A self inclusion class within the main stream education system.


Integration…… my ass.

In kindergarten the special ed kids were not invited to the general ed picnic. And that’s how it was.

Two years ago his teacher wrote that he would never comprehend reading well. In fact, she recommended never buying him a book like Harry Potter. It was too imaginative and complex for him to ever comprehend. Don’t even expose him to it…. he will feel like a failure.

One thing I have learned through my life is that I rise up. Had I listened to a doctor 17 years ago not only would I have completed 6 Ironmans and qualified for Kona three times, I would never have won the races I won, I have even won twice against the men. I would own no course records. I would never have been named an All American more then four times.

I would have sat in my chair and allowed death to swallow me whole. That’s when I learned how powerful the words kiss my ass were. Little did I know that I would need those three words we became parents. Little did I know that for someone else I would have to raise the middle finger time and time again, say kiss my ass…. and watch this.

The only time I lost it, and I mean lost it was when they attempted to label our son as learning disabled. I slammed my hand down on the table. It got really really quiet. They got nervous. I got angry.

Learning disabled is not anywhere in his IEP. (Individual education plan).

When i yanked him from that school a month later, they told me they could take me to court and charge me with not sending my child to school.

Please do. I said. My attorney and I have already prepared.

They instead sent us a tutor and by way of a crisis we were faced with a decision between two schools for kid with special needs. Both had the reputation for being where the bad kids went.

I took a tour, with a Social Worker. The school was gigantic. It seemed old. There are rooms in there, quiet rooms. Where kids are put when they become out of control. That sounds barbaric to you if you have never been in this world, but there are some kids who have to go into those rooms. My school district told me Luc would probably need that room several times a day.

I cried when I saw it.

But I understood. If Luc became dangerous they needed to keep him and others safe.

I was scared of those rooms.

She led me to the gymnasium, where there was a class of children scooting around on scooters. The gym teachers were laughing. The kids were having a blast. They were on the floor, rolling around…… kids of all abilities. Not disabilities.

As we walked down another hall….. there was a child with an aide, having what we call a meltdown. How his aide was acting caught me……. in the old school it was get control of yourself… you will be suspended…. you will go to the principal… we will call the crisis team….. evacuate the classroom….  not here. Let it out…. she told him…… let it out… you are safe….. it’s ok….. we have all the time in the world.

There is a place in the new school, they call it Mission Control. It’s a place where any kid can go, at any time, for any reason. In it is a ramp with a skateboard, a bike, a swing, boxes of dried rice and pasta, books…..  everything you can imagine for a sensory challenged child. At any time you can say “I need to go to Mission Control”. And you went there to do what you needed to do. You just had to write how you felt when you went in and felt when you left. That’s all.

There is a tech shoppe in the new school. The teacher showed me what these kids make. Drill press. Saw. Hammer. This stuff for the bad kids school? What was I doing here?

They have an outdoor heated 25 yard pool. When the weather is good they swim. Man do they swim.

The first day Luc went to school I sat by the phone all day long. Typically I got two calls a day from the Principal. Not today. No calls. No calls the second, third fourth day. The fifth day a call.

Oh my God. Is he in that room? I thought as the nurse identified herself. The first thing she did was ask how I was doing. Who me? By now I have eight things Luc did wrong…. previously. Then she assured me everything was fine, she just wanted to confirm who Luc’s pediatrician was.


Okay then.

Fast forward two years.

He sings in the school chorus. He has friends. He walks to classes alone (hell general ed kids can’t even do that!). He swims. He bikes. He makes cars, in tech class. With a saw. And a Drill press. and no one has died nor gotten hurt. H made me a swim abacus to help me count my laps.


Remember…… the one where he would likely be put several times a day because he’s DANGEROUS. Yeah that one. In fact, I have never seen anyone in one. This place, they just handle the hard times. They don’t freak out and make a kid feel like a freak. And they even….. sit down for this one….. teach the child how to work through it.

Imagine. Freaking.That.

His teachers….. all of them….. have talent beyond talent. I always felt like his special ed teachers in his old school had incredible talent….. yet were dictated and controlled by those above them and the curriculum. I felt that all of them were trapped in a system that did not allow them to be the teachers they wanted to be.

Here…….. they are the teachers they dreamt of being. Here….. they are allowed to be creative, they are not controlled by anyone but their own self. At least that’s how it appears. You walk into this school and every teacher is smiling. There is always a kid and a teacher or aide or adult walking down the hall shooting the breeze. Any time I have seen a meltdown they way it gets handled is incredible.

They hold these kids accountable. They inspire them to learn.

I bought Luc Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone on Monday. last night he finished chapter 7. Not only can I not tear it out of his hands he keeps telling me what’s happening. Wait a sec….  thought he wouldn’t be able to comprehend it.

Oh wait….. kiss my ass.

Sorry……. but you don’t get to write the end of his story. You don’t get to LABEL a child as learning disabled, throw him in the bottom 2% of the class and write him off.

You want to call me a helicopter mom? Please do. in my opinion helicopter Moms are the ones who meddle and control. Who don’t let their kids be freaking KIDS.

We….. we advocate.This amazing blog a friend sent me yesterday says it best……..

The term “helicopter parents” is meaningless, inappropriate and insulting to parents of kids with disabilities.
Don’t say it to us. Don’t even think it about us.
Save it for Toddlers & Tiaras.
As parents of special needs kids, we hover because integration into school programs like band is incredibly important to our children. It is the thing that can release them from the gentle ghetto of special education classes that can become their parking place until they are old enough for the public schools to relinquish responsibility and return them to “Your Problem” status. We hover because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t. We’ve seen what happens in even the best programs when a child is difficult to teach and no one is looking. We hover because we can remember past schools in past towns where our child was forgotten in the corner because she was a broken child, but a polite and quietly broken one who didn’t require constant attention and protection.
We hover, not because we don’t want our kids to become independent, but because we desperately want them to be, and we know the paths that are most likely to lead them there. We hover because history has shown all of us that if we don’t watch out for our kids, sometimes they don’t get watched out for.
We don’t just hover. We monitor, we observe, we interfere when necessary, and we educate ourselves so that we are able to identify those times when it becomes necessary. Our complete and total involvement with our kids’ school experience is not negotiable. Special needs parents are experts in the one thing that even the best schools will never master. We know our kids. More to the point, we know their monsters. And if we believe that we need more information on how a program works or how it is going to affect our child, it is inappropriate to tell us that we’re not invited, we’re not needed, they’ve got a handle on this, there’s nothing for us to worry about.
Are we a pain in the ass to the schools where Schuyler has attended? If we are, then it’s because someone has forgotten that we are part of her team. Someone has let themselves be fooled into thinking that they know what’s best for her and that she is like any other kid they’ve taught. Any time a teacher thinks that past experience tells them all they need to know about teaching a child, they have already failed. This is true of any student, but it is true a hundred times over for a child with a disability. Every broken child is broken in their own way. Every single one of them.
So special needs parents become helicopter moms and dads, if that’s how you want to look at it. But if that’s how you see us, I hope that you’ll keep that opinion to yourself. Unless you are one of our kids’ teachers. In that case, I hope you will keep that opinion to yourself, AND get the hell out of the way.

NOBODY…. gets to write the end of Luc’s story. Nobody gets to write the end of your story. Period. Whoever you are. WHATEVER YOU FACE.

This isn’t to say that life is perfect. We will have struggles and obstacles that are bigger than the ones we have faced. We have a massive battle coming in another year. Not to mention teenage years. But we are a family. Who advocates. Who learned the system. Who believes in ABILITIES.

The rest…… can kiss my ass.

No one writes the end of his story. Except him.