Children Who Shine From Within

children who shine

“What’s your favorite insect?” my seven-year-old daughter asked as we took an evening walk on the first night of her spring vacation. “You can’t pick butterfly. Everyone picks the butterfly,” she quickly added before I had a chance to respond.

“Hmmmm,” I thought out loud. “I guess mine would have to be a ladybug,” I finally answered.

“Mine’s a firefly. I love the firefly,” she said wistfully.

We kept walking. Talking. Enjoying the rare treat of alone time—just my younger daughter and me.

And then:

“Am I okay? I mean, am I fine?” she asked looking down at herself.  “Sometimes I feel different.”

I immediately stopped walking and searched her face. Without saying what she meant, I knew; I just knew.

I bent down and spoke from a painful memory tucked away since second grade. “When I was your age. I felt different too. I felt uncomfortable, self conscious. One boy said really cruel things about the way I looked. He said I didn’t belong. His words hurt me for a long, long time,” I admitted.

As she looked at me sadly, her previous words echoed in my head. “Everyone picks the butterfly,” she’d pointed out a moment ago.

I placed my hands on her sturdy little shoulders as if somehow this could make her feel my words right down to the bone. “I want you to know something. You can always talk to me when you feel different or uncomfortable. I will never laugh. I will never judge you or tell you it’s no big deal. I will never brush away your feelings because I understand. I remember how it hurts. And some times you just need someone to understand that hurt.”

“I love the firefly,” she had said a moment ago. I then realized I had something she could hold on to.

“You mentioned that you love the firefly,” I reminded her. “Well, I think you’re a lot like a firefly. You know why?” I asked.

The worry on her face lifted. She looked at me hopefully. “Why, Mama?”

“Because you shine from within,” I said touching my finger to her heart. “Not everybody sees it, but I do. I see it. And my job is to protect that light. So when people say mean comments that squelch that light, I want you to tell me. I will protect your light by listening and loving you, my brave, courageous, and unique little firefly.”

children who shine 3

My daughter stepped forward and wrapped her arms around my neck.  She still said nothing—not one word. Maybe it was because she was on the verge of tears. Maybe it was because silent comfort was all she needed in that moment. I can’t be sure. But what I can be sure of is this: this story is not over.

You see, as weeks have passed, I haven’t been able to stop thinking of our firefly talk and the timing of this message. The end of the school year can be hard for kids, especially the Fireflies—those who shine from within. And it’s that time—time for awards, banquets, recognition, and applause. The Butterflies will be noticed. So brilliant. So colorful. Their talents so obvious. But let us not forget the Fireflies. Their triumphs are quiet and unsuspecting. Their gifts might even go completely unnoticed.

A firefly might be a seat saver on the bus so someone doesn’t have to go to the intimidating back row.
A firefly might be a songwriter who pens music in his nightly dreams and hums away his days.
A firefly might be an artist that creates pictures you can feel with your soul.

A firefly might save his money for years just waiting for his heart to tell him, “That’s the one who needs your help.”
A firefly might stay up past bedtime calculating numbers beneath the covers because he was born a mathematician.
A firefly might be the I.T. kid of the school who jumps at the chance to help teachers with their computer woes.

A firefly might get lost in a cloud of flour, delighting in culinary arts.
A firefly might be a horseback rider finding peace in the company of animals and nature.
A firefly might devour a 357-page book in one sitting.

A firefly might have eyes for the lonely, looking for someone who wonders if she’s invisible.
A firefly might stick up for the lost, the rejected, the alone.
A firefly might be the lost, the rejected, the alone … just waiting for someone to notice his light among all the bright, fluttering wings of the Butterflies.

children who shine 4

Maybe you know a Firefly. Maybe you love a Firefly.

If you do, please don’t wait.  Don’t wait for someone to hand him an award or a give her a certificate to make their talents and gifts “official.” That day may never come. So say it now. Say this:

I see your light.
I see it when you pick up your guitar.
I see it when you make brushstrokes of yellow, green, and gold.
I see it when you sing with your eyes closed.
I see it when you laugh with your mouth open wide.
I see it when you stand along the water’s edge dreaming of your future.
I see your light, my brave and courageous, firefly.

You shine from within.

And regardless if anyone else sees it or not—you know it’s there, and I know it’s there.

So keep shining.
Keep singing.
Keep creating.
Keep dreaming.
Keeping caring.
Keep adding, subtracting, and multiplying.
Keep making your magic.

And just you wait. Someday the world is going to see what I see. And your light will be so beautiful, so brilliant, so bright that the world is going to stop and wonder where such a light comes from.

And you and I will both know that light, well, it’s been there all along.

Because you are a Firefly.

You shine from within.

And I am here to protect that light, my brave and courageous firefly.

children who shine 5


For further guidance, strategies, & inspiration for creating a positive home or work environment where children and adults can thrive, please consider my bestselling books. HANDS FREE MAMA chronicles my 12-step journey from a life of distraction, perfection, and stress to one of peace and presence. HANDS FREE LIFE offers nine doable daily habits that empower you to respond to yourself and your loved ones with more loving acceptance, compassion, and grace. Thank you for being part of The Hands Free Revolution – letting go of distraction, perfection, & societal pressure to live more & love more!

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  1. 1


    Rachel, what a beautiful analogy! I just fell even more in love with your little firefly and all the other fireflies I know and have known. I love the trust and confidence you voiced: “And your light will be so beautiful, so brilliant, so bright that the world is going to stop and wonder where such a light comes from. And you and I will both know that light, well, it’s been there all along.” Your daughter will carry that with her for life.

    • 2


      Thank you, Sandy! Given your incredible insight and experience in the field of positive parenting, your loving affirmations really lift me up. Thank you for continuing to be a powerful source of support to my readers who seek guidance navigating the challenges that come with the most important job in the world. You & your book are a blessing!

          • 5


            I wish someone had told me those exact words when I was very young…I somehow figured it out though and at age 70 I can still let my light shine ! I published a book, Sweet Morning Glory, in 2014 and working on another one. I love the story….she is fortunate to have such an encouraging and smart mother!

        • 6

          ms. mandy says

          At 69, I’m very choked up. I’ve had lots of “Fireflies” in care with me as foster children, and my children and grandchild are all precious “fireflies” as they shine with a light that you can see them coming. This made my day!

      • 8



        Your acknowledgment means a great deal to me. Thank you for allowing me to share Language of Listening with your readers.

        I noticed that in the comments that have come in on this post, several readers’ shared the pain of watching their firefly children be excluded. The most important things to do to help children work through this kind of painful experience are: to listen to their feelings about it as you did for your daughter in this post; help them see why other kids do what they do as Michelle did in her comment below when she explained “flock mentality” or safety in numbers; and help them see their choice to be authentic as a strength.

        For example, when my younger daughter started middle school, she had friends in the cool group and the not-cool group. The “cool kids” tended to put down or exclude others in order to feel special, and she hated that. At one point, she felt pressured to choose between the two groups. When she talked to me about it, it was clear that to her it was much more important to be authentic than to be part of a “cool kids” group. She could have changed her appearance and behavior to fit in with them, but would never have felt good about it. When I pointed that out to her, her choice was easy. She would never give up who she was.

        Since she could see why the “cool kids” did what they did, and understood the pressure they put on themselves, she didn’t hold it against them. Even more, she was able to maintain a lasting friendship behind the scenes with one of the “cool kids,” even though the girl actively ignored her at school. Kids can accept anything as long as they don’t take it personally.

        My older daughter’s experience with middle-school exclusion was rougher. Her long-term friends actually tried to bump her out of their group and get her suspended by putting cigarettes in her locker. I listened to her feelings first, then we talked about why this might be happening. It was quite eye-opening for her to realize she had something to do with the exclusion – she wanted to stay a kid, and they didn’t. She was happy with her old T-shirts and toys, and they were ready for make-up and boys.

        Since she still wanted to keep these friends, I intervened in a way that ended the exclusion problem and left all the kids feeling better about themselves. I explain the details in a Teen CD:

        Helping kids see their strengths in the choices they make (like being different) is empowering as is helping them understand why other kids do what they do. Kids that exclude other kids are not mean. They are usually trying to feel special or important because deep inside they don’t, and/or they are acting out of a fear of being excluded themselves.

        Our job as parents is to help our children love themselves just as they are and embrace their difference or their sameness, just as you do in your posts. When kids embrace who they are, our “different” kids no longer have to fear exclusion, and our “same” kids no longer have to exclude or attack other kids.

    • 10

      Michelle says

      Sitting here crying, reading this. No one has put it so eloquently, this feeling that I have about my daughter. The one who is “different” and doesn’t have any friends outside of the other outcasts. The one who cries to me that other kids don’t like her because she isn’t like them. The one who stood up for a child that was being picked on, and brought the full wrath of the bully her own way. The one who was given spending money on a trip to the store with her grandma, and put all $10 in a jar for a family who had a house fire. The one who speaks beyond her years, and astounds everyone she meets with her language. The one who loves everyone – it doesn’t matter who they are, where they are from, what they do. The one who could care less about the things other girls her age like, and wants to study the life cycle of a worm. The one who has been in 10 natural beauty pageants, and finally won a high title, and made people in the room tear up because she was so humble and gracious and excited. She is genuine. And I try to explain to her that at this age, kids tend toward a flock mentality. But when she grows, she will move mountains. Thank you for this!

      • 11

        Arianne says

        I feel like you are describing my 11 year old firefly perfectly. Mature beyond her years, kind and stands up for the bullied. Loves science and math and is always reading. She is more naturally beautiful than I can ever hope to be. I see all these things and yet it is hard when she comes home saying she can’t relate to the other girls her age. I hope she is able to find a friend like your daughter that she can connect with in middle school. They are a rare breed 🙂

      • 12

        Kristina says

        You’re describing me as a child and teenager. I always felt different, I never related to the kids my own age (I disappeared in my books and old movies instead). I befriended my teachers in middle school- the only people in the building I could relate to. After years of caring about other things and feeling older than everyone else, I’m 37 and feel comfortable with who I am- a mother of three boys, once a teacher and now home with my kids, and am a self-taught photographer. Though those who love me still like to tease me about the fact that I know a little something about everything, they do it lovingly and respect me for it. I’m absolutely a Firefly! My oldest son is smart and quirky, but has found other kids like him. The one who concerns me is my quiet middle boy. Though I survived, I desperately want to make his path a little smoother, less lonely and painful than mine was. He’s the one I lie in bed and worry about at night.

  2. 13

    Clare says

    Beautiful! As the parent of two ‘fireflies’ this really resonates with me. One of them is very extroverted and is never in danger of being overlooked, but is well ahead of his age academically and never quite feels like he fits. The other is a beautiful, gentle soul who sings and draws and imagines and isn’t quite ready to grow up yet, but is the quiet ‘good’ kid in class who has been overlooked many times. I try so hard to make sure they know how special and appreciated and loved they are, and posts like this really help to clarify and re-inspire. Thank you once again Rachel for your wonderful, affirming words.

    (and I could never be a butterfly…if you want to see me hit the ground in a hurry, just put me in a butterfly enclosure. I had to almost crawl out of a pre-school trip to a beautiful butterfly park. Everyone else was saying how beautiful these amazing, HUGE, butterflies were (seriously, they were the size of my hand!), but I have this totally unexplainable, primal fear of things that fly! I much prefer insects that don’t have wings…)

  3. 16

    Julie says

    My daughter is a firefly for sure. Thank you for the perfect metaphor to help her see her inner light.

    In fact, it’s her inner light that has helped me through my husband’s, her father’s death.

    Makes me think of several quotes:

    “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
    Albert Schweitzer

    “Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.” ~Ruth E. Renke

    • 17


      Thank you, Julie, for sharing. I am certain your observation will help someone else see how their own firefly is illuminating even the darkest times of life. Thank you for this hope to hold on to and for these exquisite quotes.

  4. 18


    This is beautiful and your daughter sounds like an absolute sweetheart. I have three little fireflies, they make my heart ache with their beauty and spark. Keeping that spark and wonder is one of the many reasons I chose to homeschool and it is hands down one of the best decisions I have ever made.

    I know it may not be for everyone and although they are homeschooled they are not wrapped in cotton wool, we are out there mixing with people and they know just by playing in the park or playgrounds that not everybody is nice. Everytime I hear some beautiful little kid being bullied, ridiculed or made to feel inferior I feel sad for that precious little child. I also know that I’ve made the right decision.

    • 19


      Thank you for sharing your story, Lynda. It is so comforting to hear that regardless of our situation, we all share similar worries about protecting our children’s light, as well as the lights in ALL children. Thank you for being here.

  5. 20

    Melanie says

    Thank you Rachel. I needed that reminder. I absolutely have a firefly in my 8 year old son. He is a natural at singing and acting. He really shined when he went to acting camp one summer but I can’t convince him to go back. I think he is afraid of what other kids will think. None of his other friends do any plays or acting classes and I think he feels like it wouldn’t be cool if he did it again. He loves it though! Our church asked us to help them with a video that they were doing for Easter and he was great and he had the best time and asks us to watch it on You Tube all the time. I often overlook this little firefly quality in him because he also has ADD and I feel like I am constantly fussing at him to stay focused and finish doing what he is supposed to be doing. I desperately needed this reminder to remember to tell him how special and unique and talented he is and not constantly remind him of the things that he struggles with. Thank you again!

    • 21


      Hi Melanie, thank you for sharing this. I know many of us can relate to what you are describing. I really hope you are able to find an acting camp or class that perhaps has a few boys so your son can feel comfortable doing what he loves to do! He sounds like a natural!

    • 22

      Emily says

      Melanie, I too thought of my ADD son. I too spend too much time fussing at him to do this and that and stay on track. But his “track” is just different than mine. I have to remember that is okay.

      • 23

        Missie says

        I read a post on FB recently that said something like “instead of trying to change your child to be who you think he should be, realize that he is who he is supposed to be and maybe he’ll make help you become who you’re supposed to be.” I have an 11 yr old son with ADHD and I can relate to you. I’ve kept this message in my head the past few weeks, it’s helped me to appreciate all of him more.

        • 24


          Thank you for letting me know, Missie. That was a lesson my younger daughter taught me. I am so glad I “got it” before I squelched out her light by trying to make her more productivity-driven like I am. I was happy to share that revelation. So glad it has touched your life. xo

  6. 25

    Tiffany says

    I have two fireflies in my life. My eldest a beautiful bright creative soul. She’s not afraid of cutting her hair in choppy angles and wearing it spiky. She creates beautiful pictures. She’s loud and sensitive. She’s funny and willing to try anything. She’s daring and bold. Everything in her life is taken head on. I love her inability to care and her sensitivity when no one gets it. My middle guy is my other fire fly. Quiet, sassy, bold, funny. His brain is always working in speeds I just don’t understand. He sorts in shapes and colors. He adds like a calculator. He plots his every move. He thinks of solutions before there is a problem. He’s a grumpy old man who loves his space and privacy. He rarely smiles and his glass is always half empty. He has many friends though and they all rely on him, something that he shines at. My eldest is 8 and my middle 6. I have a beautiful 4 year old butterfly too. Many colors shining and adored at once by many. I love the bugs in my life! Xx

  7. 27

    Renee says

    I have always felt like my kids fly under the radar and don’t always get recognized for all their great qualities. It always bothered me more than it bothered them and I learned a lot from them because of that. Its not about the recognition you get its about the people you touch along the way. Sometimes you may never know how you affect people, but always remember that you do. Thanks for this blog it helped me remember that its ok to shine from within.

    • 28


      Thank you, Renee. Beautifully stated: ” Its not about the recognition you get; it’s about the people you touch along the way. Sometimes you may never know how you affect people, but always remember that you do.” I couldn’t agree more.

      • 29

        Christina M says

        Yes, Renee! Love those lines, too! I think I will write those down and post where my fireflies can see it…and my firefly heart needs to hear it, too. 🙂

  8. 30


    Thank you Rachel! I do have a firefly, she is a quiet, thoughtful 13 year old who has ADD. She spins all kinds of things in her head but has a hard time telling us. I worry that she will never find her place but imagining her as a firefly reminds me that she is in there, and her light is shining, I just have to look for it!

  9. 31

    Lauren says

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. My 4 year old son is a firefly; I saw these traits in him from when he was a baby, but couldn’t find the words to describe him. He started preschool at 3, for one day a week. His name rarely on the summary sheet we received at the end of the day, I sought reason… Was it because he only went one day; was he shy; did I need to do more? He now goes two days a week, his name still rarely on the summary sheet. He hasn’t found a “best friend” like other children the same age. The list goes on… Until now, I searched for what I could do to help him along, to help him find his place, to “fit in”.
    I have always known he is special, that there is something remarkable about him. I now realise that the only thing I need to do is help him see how special that light of his is, and help it shine brighter.

  10. 33

    Laurie says

    I love this. I have two daughters. One is a butterfly…people notice her “gifts” and one is a firefly. I love them both with all my heart but like you said, my firefly sometimes needs me to protect her light. (Thank you for giving me those words…they explain so much of what I feel). My fireflies gifts are creative and messy. She loved to cook and create art. I can see her light shine when she is creating but it shines brightest when she shares this creations (food, drawings, etc) with others. That is when they see the light of my creative, generous firefly.

    • 34


      Thank you for taking time to describe your firefly. I love how you said her light shines the brightest when she shares her creations with others. What a beautiful little spirit she has—she is making the world a better place.

  11. 35


    What appropriate timing! And I so remember that feeling of not quite fitting in like everyone else. I had some lovely friends, but I was not in the “popular” crowd and had different interests. My heart aches for your daughter feeling that way at such a young age, but with you has her mama she will be just fine!!! My oldest is almost always just short of the award. Last year all of his best friends earned something, and he didn’t. That is hard to watch, but he handled it well. I love this analogy and will use it in the future. Just when I think your writing can’t get any better, you blow me away! Thank you.

    • 36


      Thank you for taking the time to share your own experiences as well as providing a word of encouragement to me. I was very excited to share this story knowing it had the potential to lift someone up today. Thank you for being here!

  12. 37

    Cali Kliewer says

    My own children are not really old enough for me to know yet whether they will be butterflies or fireflies, but as a middle school teacher, I see this ALL.THE.TIME.
    One thing we do in my school is host the HOPE awards each year. The HOPE awards were started with the very idea of honoring our “fireflies” Our students who shine in ways that are not often acknowledged in our society. We have honored students with HOPE awards since 1996, and they have become some of the most prestigious awards kids can get. It’s a big deal to receive one. I’m so blessed to work in a place that realizes we can’t all be butterflies.
    Amazing post, as always. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • 38


      Oh how I LOVE that your school recognizes inner gifts and talents that are not recognized by society. I can only imagine how many young men and women were affirmed through this acknowledgement and inspired to continue on their creative path. I appreciate you taking time to share this!

    • 39

      Dianne Price says

      Cali, I too am a middle grades teacher. Could you please share more about your HOPE awards? I would love to incorporate those with our students. Thank you!

  13. 40

    Kari says

    What a beautiful post! I, too, was a firefly child and remember those feelings oh so well. What a great analogy and way to encourage your daughter, and others. I have two boys who are fireflies also and I need to remember to give them more encouragement, so hopefully they won’t have the self confidence issues I have battled since childhood. Thanks again for sharing your message!

  14. 41

    Nathalie says

    This is a really beautiful website…..I have never seen anything like it. I I am not a parent but I am a teacher. I have been in education for the past 10 years and I have met many fireflies and loved them all. As teachers, its easy to recognize the bright and shiny butterflies….there are times when fireflies get lost in the shuffle….but when you yourself were a firefly as a youngster, you somehow end up connecting with other fireflies because you remember what it felt like to be different. For a teacher, all it takes is a look…recognizing a little something in them…a smile….a reassuring comment….these small acts raise their little spirits. How I love fireflies!

  15. 43

    Dallas says

    Thank you for this. It brought tears to my eyes. First thinking of my three quirky fireflies at home now, that never *quite* seem to fit in, but their many hidden lights brighten my days. Your post has reminded me to make sure they know about their light and to not let it fade. But then I was brought back to my own childhood. My own light was continually squashed by my peers growing up. Slowly over the years I’ve been rediscovering my light and trying to let it shine. Your post definitely helped. Thank you.

  16. 45

    Mary says

    What I would have given for a parent who heard me even when I couldn’t express my longings and fears. My parents did the best they could. They had many struggles. But even at my age now, I wish things had been different. I can’t control that. What I can control is how I respond to children now. I work to be conscious of them and to support them and their parents.

    • 46


      This is very powerful, Mary. Thank you for sharing this insight that furthers our awareness of what children need. You have given us a gift by sharing your experience & wisdom. I am grateful.

  17. 47


    This post made me cry with the realization that I do have a beautiful firefly living right here in my very own home whom I love dearly. I have felt sadness for her as of late as she has been unhappy sometimes within her self and limits. She shines brightly in so many ways, but sometimes she doesn’t see her own true beauty as she has entered into the stage of comparing herself to her peers. She is nine and an amazing child! This post has reminded me how important it is to remind her gently of her light that shines from within. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of your own daughter!

    • 48


      Thank you, Amy. I am so grateful to know this post reminded you to tell your beautiful daughter of the light you see within her. I will be sure to pass that along to my 7 y.o. daughter who gave me permission to share our conversation with the hopes it would help someone else be lifted up. I hope and pray your daughter is able to see her own true beauty even if it doesn’t look like everyone else’s.

  18. 49


    So beautiful, thank you. Your analogy resonates down deep with me. My firefly is nearly the same age, her language sometimes will not let her express the deep thoughts that make her different – but it is coming out more and more just how deep and wide her thoughts go. I feel it among my own peers at work, sometimes — just because I am ‘grown up’ doesn’t mean I am not curious and still learning about everything I want to, whether it is popular or not… It is our job to nurture the curiosity within ourselves and our little ones, so it can bloom, and not have their wings crushed.

  19. 50

    Judy says

    Thank you for your beautiful piece. As an introvert/painfully shy former child who has grown into this world as a mother of three daughters, the child who struggles to speak that with lies just beneath the surface always brings a lump to my throat. Our society does not do nearly enough to acknowledge the Quiet ones among us. I wish there was a Kindness Award, a Thoughfulness Award and a Most Helpful Award along with those given for academics and sports to show that we truly honor the traits that really matter. In a clutch situation as an adult, having a friend or partner who is kind is far more important than having one who can ace the science test.

  20. 52


    In many ways, a firefly resides in all of us, likewise a butterfly too. The discrepancy arises because we as a society use such a narrow definition to say that someone is a butterfly because they are academic achievers.

    I find it a great shame that we cannot yet bring ourselves to embrace the ‘different-ness’ and ‘originality’ that is each and every one of us. I love the way you have phrased it though, that it is your job as mum to ensure that her inner light continues to shine brightly.

    I have a similar, but not exactly the same mantra, going on in my head (with regards to my 8 year old daughter), which says, “I will hold on to your dreams for you in case you forget them.”
    Much like Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

    Thank you for sharing your own light.

    • 53


      “I will hold on to your dreams for you in case you forget them.” Oh my. This is a gorgeous, hopeful, encouraging mantra to think about in loving our precious ones, as well as our spouse and friends, too. What a gift. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and beautiful life perspective, Li-ling.

  21. 55

    Claudia coello says

    I have 4 beautiful fireflies who are smart, have a huge heart and hope will be strong and be themselves always. I thank you for this blog. I almost cried reading it. Yes we should start recognizing the fireflies along with the butterflies

  22. 56

    Elizabeth says

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder. As a firefly among butterflies most of my life, it brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. And now that I have my own beautiful, nurturing, firefly I am even more determined to protect that light and let it shine!

  23. 57


    Love this! This is my daughter. My husband and I have spent many hours talking about her and her quiet, but extraordinary gifts. She’s the one who is always listening and following directions and taking it all in. She’s the one who won’t raise her hand, but always knows the answer. She’s the creative one. The thinker. She’s an amazing friend, who is loyal beyond belief. She’s incredible with other people and chooses to see the good in everyone. She has a heart of gold and empathy and a soul like I’ve never seen. Always giving of herself. She’s only 6, but we can’t wait to see what she does with her life. It hurts sometimes that teachers at school and church overlook her. They choose her friend to come up and help because that friends always raises her hand and is more “vocal.” I’m trying to come with grips that it’s okay; that’s she amazing, and we know it, and that’s what matters. We’ve been trying to help her find her gifts and develop confidence in herself. To help her know that everyone has gifts, and hers matter, too, even if they are not as noticeable. Thank you, as always, for sharing your gift; your gift for the written word.

  24. 58

    Amanda says

    I don’t have any children – life just didn’t work out that way – but this post still resonated with me. I was a firefly. I was the quiet introvert who struggled to be recognized, who wanted to be in the thick of everything while being more comfortable in the wings. I loved books and when put to bed I would switch on my math game and practice equations in the glow of the red numbers. I still turned out okay… more than okay. I’ve been very successful in life and have definitely come into my own. Looking back at my memories as a child through the lens of a firefly and it makes me smile. Your children are so fortunate to have such a thoughtful and caring mother. 🙂

    • 59


      Thank you, Amanda, for taking time to share this. It is so lovely to hear from an adult firefly — to hear both how you turned out and what you remember about your childhood “through the lens of a firefly.” So beautiful and inspiring.

  25. 61

    Amy says

    My Avery (age 8) is definitely a firefly. She has learning disabilities that she will carry with her for many years, but she is the happiest, best behaved, kindest child in the world. I often say that she lives in a different world than the rest of us and I wish she could take me there. She is a gift from God to our family and everyone around her. She will do great things!!

  26. 62

    Susan says

    I can relate to this because I know exactly how it is not to be one of the butterflies. But to be true: I never wanted to be one because they are mostly boring. Now, looking back to my schooldays, all the butterflies who where so obviously shiny have been just this: Shiny. And not much else. Now they became accountants, bank clerks, insurance agents. Most of them are now just boring beyond imagination because there never much else than their looks and their clothes to make them interesting. I think that especially those butterfly types are feeling bound to fulfill their expected role whereas all the fireflys are much more free. It may sound a bit confused I hope I could make my thoughts clear.

    My little son, 7 years old, already feels that there is no need to envy those butterflies because he finds them equally boring as I find them.

    • 63

      Brittany says

      I must say that although I can empathize with where you are coming from with most of your comments… it’s a bit judgemental to assume someone is “boring” because of their job. Some people are blessed to find jobs they love and are passionate about – others take jobs to make ends meet — just because it’s not something you would enjoy, doesn’t make a person less valuable. In fact, the whole point of this article was about not squashing the lights of the fireflies among us — and yet, you made a generic assumption about a large group of people based on nothing but their job title.

      I’m an accountant, so this comment was definitely hurtful to me, as without knowing a thing about me… you assumed “accountants are boring”. I was an academically strong, yet very introverted kid who never fit in. I wasn’t pretty, nor popular, but I was smart. I like solving problems, I like math/logic, I like puzzles – I found my niche in a job I love – this is where my “light” shines. Yet for as far back as I can remember, I remember absolutely hating myself because the only “gift” I had was being smart. I wished I could be pretty, athletic, popular… because it seemed like everyone else in the world got those gifts that are so externally obvious, but my gifts were internal. No one ever picked me as their “first choice”.

      I had never considered myself “boring beyond imagination” before your comment. I would like to think there’s more to my character than a stereotypical generalization based on my job title. Rather than characterizing individuals or groups negatively because they are different than you, it might be kinder to acknowledge that everyone’s life path is different. Just because someone has more “butterfly-like” qualities, doesn’t diminish their life or make them a bad person. Everyone takes a different path in life, and I’m not sure that assuming someone’s life path is more or less valuable than your own really demonstrates acceptance and freedom. It seems to completely go against the notion of appreciating individuality.

  27. 64

    Vicky Brandy says

    I love your page and your book. I just started a home based business and am leaning heavily on your wise words. The Lord had begun to guide me in the “hands free” way prior to finding you. When I read a blog a friend shared, it confirmed what I felt was His leading and am thankful for you. This entry …. I wish I’d read this when parenting my oldest but am walking through it with my younger two! Thank you!

  28. 65

    Willa Siemek says

    I loved this story and couldn’t wait to share my thoughts. I know most of these comments relate to a child but
    “I married a Firefly!” His kind and gentle ways and his ability to live among the butterflies in my life has endeared me forever. We will soon celebrate 20 years of marriage and have raised 6 kids together. (3 were his & 3 mine). My 3 are totally butterflies and his ability to love them in spite of their sometimes selfish, thoughtless ways creates even more admiration in my heart for him. His 3 very strong willed, very bright fireflies have helped me to see the value of both insects in our lives. Thank you for allowing God to use your story to touch our lives…….

  29. 66


    Oh, yes. My daughter is definitely a firefly, and your exhortations to celebrate the quieter, less-obvious but no less important ways that they shine are really helpful. Thank you. xox

  30. 68

    Judy says

    You’ve outdone yourself with this beautiful post, Rachel. You spoke from your heart as always and connected deeply with the firefly inside me . . . and, I’ll bet, inside many others. Thank you for reminding us to tune in and look beneath the surface.

  31. 69

    Chris says

    Very beautiful. Let’s not forget that men (and boys) can be fireflies as well – even straight men :-). It has been my own personal struggle all my life, and continues. My son is one, and I think it may be even harder sometimes being a young boy like this. Thanks for helping me remember what it was like. and to be able let him know that it’s ok.
    I was also reminded of a great song – “The Greatest Love of All” Not written by Whitney Houston, but by a woman named Linda Creed who was struggling with breast cancer. Kinda helps put things into perspective. Thank you again.

  32. 70

    Angie says

    Hi Rachel, one of my girlfriends posted this on her FB page. She was my oldest son’s developmental therapist when he was younger and is one of the most amazing people I know. Your post was the first thing I read on FB today and it was just what I needed. My oldest has silent seizures along with some other difficulties, my two youngest are adopted. All 3 of my fireflies have, and most likely will forever, experienced the “different” feeling. The ‘why am I not a butterfly’ feelings. They are still young, but I am going to print out your post and read parts of it to them. Thank you for sharing this experience with your daughter. My tears were falling like waterfalls, both from sadness of knowing people can be so cruel with their words, but also with happiness to know that I finally have an analogy I can use to help explain why some people are different.

  33. 71

    Sarah says

    Thanks for this post. While I am a mother of two, I’m a teacher to many…and sixth graders, no less. A time when many students are fireflies trying to come into their own. Your post made me take a deep breath, renew my patience, and it was a nice reminder to seek out the fireflies and find what makes them glow as well. (We all know the butterflies! Now time to celebrate some fireflies!)

    Thanks for writing…your words always inspire me!

  34. 72



    I am recent to your blog and I just started reading it. What a nice post to start with… I am a firefly myself and I get told everyday that I think too much, analyse too much, that I can’t just live without thinking all the time about other people’s emotions. I am starting sometimes to doubt that light… I think if my mother told me the same words you told your daughter, I would have doubted myself less. Your firefly is really lucky to have you!

  35. 73

    Krisma says

    I had to pause from reading this FOUR TIMES to stop and cry. lol
    Love this!

    I’m going to post some of these statements on my daughters rooms.

  36. 74

    Tara Dana says

    Thank you so much for this post. I have a little firefly in my life and it’s an amazing reminder because her older brother who is 13 shines from the outside, plays hockey, is very social and sometimes a little mean to her. My little firefly is 10 now and I can see the light get squelched each time someone asks her oh do you play soccer, oh do you play softball? I think we live in a very sports oriented town and it breaks my heart watching her try to answer these questions. She loves just being a kid and playing, exploring, being with friends and she’s an avid animal lover. She’s not interested in competition, stress, winning, etc.. She’s such a beautiful, giving soul. Thanks for showing me a way to explain to her how I feel about her. She is a firefly and her light from within is so bright. I need to remind her more and find constructive ways to protect the light within her.

  37. 75

    Emily says

    I love this article, I have read it several times and shared and commented on Facebook. As a mom, I see fireflies in all of my children (ages 18,19, and 22) and myself, although there have also been times when they were butterflies. As a teacher, many times it pained me to give those traditional awards out to students, for it was always the same butterflies that earned them. I tried to make notes to all of my students, recognizing their strengths and talents. I do want to share that I disagree with the lines, “And just you wait. Someday the world is going to see. . .”, for some people may always go unnoticed, fly under the radar. But, that’s okay for me, because I know that God always notices what I do, He always sees my efforts, He values who I am, whether I am a butterfly OR a firefly or just a squiggly old worm. And He loves me.

  38. 76

    Maria says

    Rachel, I always enjoy your soulful blog but this episode resonates with particular depth in me… I have two fireflies children, I breed fireflies, I am a firefly myself. The hard part of my parenting them is that I am a PROUD firefly and don’t always understand that my kids might sometimes aspire to be butterflies. One of them is a 7 year old boy and – while outwardly he accepts his being different from most boys his age – I know he suffers for not having many friends among his peers. He’s creative, writes stories and draws funny characters, he’s an avid reader (as the youngest kid in his 2nd grade class he’s already read 3 Harry Potter books, Shakespeare’s play in comic book form and the likes), he takes ballet classes and, though he loves soccer, he stopped playing it when other kids turned to a more aggressive concept of the sport. He’s not a popular pick for playdates and has been bullied already a few times in just 4 years of public school. My husband and I are very supportive of our kids’ uniqueness but I also know that – at that age – the acceptance of their peers is fundamental for a happy development. I didn’t grow up in the US, I’m from Italy and came here only in my early 30s (I’m 47 now); I don’t remember craving the feel of “belonging” as much as my children do, now and here. If I can be critical of my adopted country, I’d point out that for all the beautiful words of encouragement that our society showers on our children (“Be yourself”, “protect your uniqueness”, etc.) the absurd need to standardize our kids still prevails… God forbid a child does not aspire to be a sport jock, or pursue some less popular interests. Families have a greater responsibility than they think in the way our fireflies are treated in the world.

  39. 78

    Nathalia says

    One of the most touching posts I have ever read! I am proud to say that I love a firefly, and I have seen the light shining inside of him from the second he was born!

  40. 79

    Andrea says

    Rachel, since I have found your book and follow your blog, my perspective on life has changed tremendously. Thank you for this, my son is a firefly…..we just had a very similar conversation this past weekend.

  41. 80


    Oh Rachel, this is so beautifully perfect. Fireflies… yes! I have a couple of them, too. The analogy is just brilliant. So many flock to the butterflies in my Tribe, eager to view their external beauty, but it’s the fireflies they want to catch and hold because of their magic and intrigue. I will never again think about my kids’ accomplishments (or their disappointments) without thinking of this. Thank you. XO

  42. 81

    anonymous says

    This is beautiful. I wish I had your words. Especially in the moments when I need them most! I have a very fiery 9 year old little dragonfly. He rarely allows himself to be overlooked, but tends to draw attention to himself for all the wrong reasons. He struggles in school so would much rather draw attention to himself on his own terms. He is explosive but also very sensitive. He is so responsible and has a very strong protective instinct. He is always looking out for the little guy. He plays trumpet very well and it’s that raw inner passionate power that really helps him excel! I am searching for ways to re-affirm to him all that is good about his character, regardless of how others perceive him. I pray I will have the insight I need, at the moment it’s needed.

  43. 82

    Paige says

    I’m grateful for this post and so many more. With my one firefly and one firecracker, your words really spoke to me, especially this time of year. Thanks.

  44. 83

    Debbie says

    Love your blog and this post. You inspire me to be a better mother, friend, and daughter. Thanks for sharing your insight and encouragement. God has given you a gift and it’s wonderful.

  45. 84


    What a beautiful moment you shared with your daughter and what a wonderful message. Your mom radar was totally lit at that moment! Such an amazing message you gave your daughter. As my girls have gotten older (11 and 14) I have shared how the butterflies may be the most picked now but why? They are not always for the best reasons. And how butterflies in school are not always so popular later in life. I believe it is the fireflies that will flourish…with their uniqueness, giving spirit, special talents, love for others…they will outshine all the rest. Sometimes little ones don’t understand that yet but you have cacooned your daughter in comfort and love. She will do wonderful with your guidance, example, and love.

  46. 85


    This is so beautiful, Rachel. What a great reminder for grown-ups, too, that we should do the things we love not for recognition or accolades but for the joy and satisfaction in doing them; that we should know that whatever it is we contribute serves a greater good in a way that only we can offer. To add to the metaphor, don’t butterflies have brilliant colors to signal birds to stay away? The bright colors are supposed to tell animals looking to snack on a bug that they are bitter or poisonous, I think. Their bright, pretty colors distance them from the rest of the world in this way, whereas it has been my experience, that those who shine from within are great attractors and connectors in the world without needing to put on a big show 🙂

  47. 86


    I have a 13 year old firefly who was never able to express what was happening to her. Now she is finally dealing with it, and I am hearing heartbreaking stories of her elementary school year. Yesterday, she told me how many teachers accused her of plagiarism because they couldn’t believe she was able to write the way she did (because she READ as much as she did!) It’s not just kids; many times adults are too dazzled by the butterflies to appreciate all the other wonderful fireflies, or even all the other bugs who still do important work. (do you want to live in a world without dung beetles? I don’t!)

  48. 87


    There is great beauty and wisdom in this so thank you. I take issue, however, with this:

    “And just you wait. Someday the world is going to see what I see. And your light will be so beautiful, so brilliant, so bright that the world is going to stop and wonder where such a light comes from.”

    That’s not necessarily true that the world will take notice. AND THAT IS OK. We don’t need the world to affirm our right to be here, to be a butterfly or a firefly, or a boring old house fly. We need to feel it inside and continue to glow from within. And you are helping her to see that, but please don’t tell her that she just needs to wait and the world will somehow, someday wake up and notice her brilliance.

    Keep on, keepin’ on!

  49. 88

    Christina E. says

    Your words have touched my heart to it’s deepest depths with this post. I am crying writing this. What a beautiful, beautiful reassurance you have given your daughter. My son is a “firefly” and all too often I have to give him that same reassurance that he is wonderfully different in the best ways! I love your analogy and will remember it the next time he needs that extra reminder that he special and amazing! Thank you for sharing this post with us.

  50. 89

    Tracy says

    I needed to read this today, so thank you! I realized that my son is my firefly. The past couple weeks have been tough on him, and my husband I cannot figure out why. We have tried speaking with him, and having one on one time, but still we were missing it. This has opened my eyes to what is going on under the surface…he is a firefly, surrounded by 3 sisters that are butterflies! I am excited to have a nice chat with him this evening. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  51. 90


    What an absolutely beautiful entry! I absolutely love your Blog and look forward to each and every entry. Thank you for this lovely piece. I can’t wait to see my daughter this afternoon after school to give her a giant hug and tell her (for the millionth time 🙂 how special she is.

  52. 91


    This is truly lovely. The world desperately needs the creativity and sensitively of fireflies – We really do need to find better ways to support our fireflies, so that they can confidently believe in their own beauty, radiate, and do their thing. I have a firefly too. 🙂

  53. 92


    Oh my word!! This post came at just the right time. I needed to read this and know that my 10 year old is definitely a “firefly” and she needs to know that she has a light that shines from within. I need her to know that I will do everything in my power to protect that light and that she can come to me whenever her light begins to flicker. I may have her read this article just because it says things that I feel I could never express as well as you just did! THANK YOU for saying the things that burn in the hearts of many of us mama’s out here in the world!

  54. 93

    Mary says

    Rachel, I just finished this poem that was in my mind this morning and was wondering if it was any good, when I saw your email about the light in your daughter. I just felt I needed to share it.

    I hope I never forget
    during the days that feel like we are stumbling
    and the ordinary ones in between
    you are more than my child
    and I need to keep your light on

    the light in you
    never existing but once
    a fingerprint, a snowflake , a voice

    it will drive you to be curious
    to reveal in creative ventures
    fueling it’s brightness
    to experience the world
    guided not lead
    to explore
    through your eyes not mine
    and yes,
    see what your body can do too
    with my help
    not my fears

    your light cannot burn if you get used to someone else lighting it

    I hope I remember
    to have faith
    in your time you will learn
    to the level you can, to the level you choose
    support, assist, I am there
    but I must keep the light on

    Faster, sooner, better
    winds trying,
    the light out

    As my child I know you at your best
    I want to give that gift to the world
    I hope I never forget
    you must have your light on
    for them to see you

    • 94


      Oh my goodness, this is so beautiful, so profound. What divine timing that you wrote this this morning. I am honored that you shared it here. What a tremendous gift you have given me and everyone who reads this. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for shining. My day has greatly improved because of your beautiful words.

      • 95

        Mary says

        Now you have made my day. But then again, your posts always do. I just couldn’t believe we were writing about the same thing today! My self doubt had to take a back seat today to support your how important your words in this post are.

  55. 96

    Kelsey says

    Rachel, you should develop this post into a children’s book! I’d do it myself (in fact, I’m already practically writing and illustrating it in my mind), but it’s not my story to share – it’s yours!! I’m sure you’d do an AMAZING job writing a children’s story, because you speak words of warmth in such a beautiful, touching way. Imagine a story about a little firefly, lost in a sea of butterflies, feeling worthless, losing their light… Just waiting for someone to come along and help them realize their inner strength, light, and unseen talents of the heart. Imagine how valuable it would be, how many parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents would absolutely LOVE to gift and read this book with the fireflies in their life! Please, Rachel, write it? You can dedicate it to your own firefly, too. Just think of how much that would impact her, to know you wrote a story just for her!

  56. 98

    Tammie says

    Thank you for this post! I have one firefly (older) and one butterfly (younger) and feel the warmth, love and acceptance in your words. Will definitely be using some of these thoughts in my conversations with my older one.

    Thank you!

  57. 99


    I have two butterflies and one firefly.
    You can’t miss the butterflies.
    But my firefly is so special, too.
    I wish others would slow enough to see him shine.
    We do and encourage others to as well, but it hurts my heart when I see him overlooked.

  58. 100

    Arlene says

    How wonderful to read about how many other fireflies are out there! My 13-year-old son is a classic firefly. Kind, compassionate, funny, outrageous and adventurous!! I’ve asked myself countless times why and how his beautiful light goes unrecognized when I can see it beaming and radiating. Your encouraging and enlightening words give me the reassurance that one day, others too will come to see the light that shines from his inner self.

  59. 101


    Oh my. This brought the tears. Because I have been thinking something very similar this week about my daughter, who is in 2nd grace. I happened to drive by her school twice this week at just the right time to see her on the playground. I’ve often said I wish I could follow her around for a day without her knowing, just to see her at school, how she works, plays, and interacts, when I’m not around.
    I know most of the time she has playmates – she talks about them all the time. But both times I drove by this week, she was off on her own, doing her thing.
    And then, this morning on the way to school she was telling me that during playtime yesterday there was one little girl who was mean to a little boy, and she said, “I just got him and tried to comfort him and we walked away.”
    I was so proud of her for that.
    She truly DOES shine from within, as do so many children. They are the ones who fall soundly in the middle where academics and sports and clubs are concerned, but who have gifts many who know them may never see. I was very pleased at the end of her first grade year, that the first grade teachers did a candy awards ceremony. There were “Smarties” awards for those who excelled academically, and “Laffy Taffy” awards for those who always made others laugh. All of the awards had more than one recipient, except for one. My daughter was given the “Dove” award, for being the class peacemaker. I could not have asked for a more fitting and special award to be given to her. 🙂

    So thank you for sharing with the world that right in the middle of all the wonderful butterflies, our fireflies are shining for us too.

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing a link on my own blog. 🙂

    • 102


      I would be honored if you shared the link on your blog! I appreciate everyone who is clicking “share” to allow this message to reach those who need it today! Thank you for sharing this beautiful description of your precious firefly. Anyone would be blessed to call her a friend. Oh, to imagine what the future holds for someone recognized as a peacemaker so young in life. Please give her a hug from my daughter and me.

  60. 103

    Bridget says

    As usual, your post had my eyes brimming with tears. This one is so special to me because I truly have a wonderful little firefly, my precious 7-year-old daughter Sophia. I have a 6-year-old son who has autism, and she is the best big sister we could have ever been blessed with to balance out our little family. She is like a mother, in that giving him things, and doing things for him, that gives her as much joy as I feel when I do things for him as his mother. She is so unselfish, without a jealous or resentful bone in her body. She is fiercely protective of him, even though he’s the one who is bigger physically. This year he started kindergarten at a school with an autism unit, and she left her school and all her friends so she could be at the same school he attends. It broke my heart to find out my loving, kind-hearted, friendly firefly had been bullied at recess for several weeks by some of her new classmates. I basically gave her the same pep talk about how she is a kind, loving and beautiful soul, and that God loves her exactly how she is, And so doses everyone who truly matters.

    Even though she is only seven, I want her to read this so she knows that she is not alone. Thanks for such a great post.

  61. 104


    I shared this with a group of friends today–we are part of a large women’s chorus. And it was an amazing reminder to us all to remember to celebrate and honor the fireflies of all ages in all our organizations, workplaces, churches, etc. Too often the butterflies get all the credit, praise, and awards, even as adults. Thank you so much for this post. It’s being shared worldwide and I am certain it will make a difference in many lives.

    • 105


      Thank you for helping to spread the message. And thank you for the gift of song you bring to the world. Whenever I hear a choir sing, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. People singing together lifts me up. I am grateful for you and your comment today.

  62. 106

    Florence says

    I loved this post and it makes me get a bit teary. Good for you for honoring your child this way. I love your promise to her. My son is in first grade. He is handsome (yes, I’m biased) and smart and kind and funny and outgoing. He is learning about all the social things that are both good and bad about school and life. He is not the funniest in his class. He is not the smartest either. He is, however, the boy who asks me to pack three snacks in his backpack every day because there are two kids in his class who never bring a snack to school. He wants to be sure they have a snack, too. He is the boy who prays every morning on the way to school to say thank you to God for his life and for the safety of and happiness of his dad. He is the boy who prays every morning for a little boy in his class who recently and unexpectedly lost his own father. He definitely shines from within. I have to remember to acknowledge that in him and keep my eyes open for other children who shine from within, too, — This was simply a wonderful post. Thank you!

  63. 108


    I think I have a firefly. He feels very different and can not make friends in this new town that values athletic ability rather than the academic ability he has. He is bored in class, and dreads recess where he will always be the last one picked to be on the team of whatever they are playing that day. My other one is sweet and quiet and “good”. She raises others so they can be recognized and prefers to follow rather than lead. I see her too struggle with the move we had recently. She is being kept in b=from recess because she is behind in reading, yet her test scores show her several grades above her peers. She doesn’t want to go to school. I may use your firefly analogy (or whichever insect they say they like) to build their confidence and joy. Thank you for the idea.

  64. 109

    Ceci Blanco says

    A friend of mine just forwarded this to me by email. I subscribe to your blog but sometimes I don’t get to my emails and I was extremely grateful that she did. I read it aloud to my husband in the car on our way to pick up our little girl. She is not a firefly but our son who is 18 and just shining his light for the world to see sure is. You touched a chord in me for that reason, and also I think because you seem like the sort of mom that I aspire to be, especially to my little girl. Having had a terribly disconnected momma, mothering her has been such a challenge for me. What a brilliant analogy to make to your daughter. Thank you for sharing this powerful story. I agree that there’s a book here somewhere.

    I also wanted to ask your opinion on being honest about the Easter bunny. My daughter turned 9 this year and asked me if the Easter bunny was real. I started by telling her but when she verbalized (through heavy tears) her disappointment over “everyone lying to all the little children in the world” I completely retracted what I was prepared to tell her. I would be interested to know how you and other moms would/have handled this sort of thing. I failed the test this time and I’d like to do better on the make up exam. Thanks again for this beautiful and inspiring story.

    • 110



      Rachel has asked me to respond to some of her readers who request parent coaching. There is actually a very simple way to respond to children asking questions about pretend or magical beings. That she asked this question tells you that she still wants the Easter Bunny to be real. When kids are done with pretend, they will tell you and give you their proof with a hint of pride like, “I know the Easter Bunny isn’t real. I saw my friend’s parents hiding eggs in the yard this morning.” Seeing that, won’t sway a child who wants to believe. That child will simply weave that into the story as in, “I saw my friend’s parents hiding eggs in the yard this morning. The Easter Bunny must need a lot of help this year.” That’s how you know.

      So how to respond always comes from your observations of your child. You can give kids a chance to tell you more by responding to ANY question with, “You’re wondering about that.” That gives them the chance to tell you what they think or what they want to be true before you respond.

      If the child’s answer is, “Suzy told me he isn’t real,” and you see in her face that she doesn’t like that (puzzlement, worry, frown, etc.), you can respond like this, “You don’t agree with her. You think he is real,” which will give her another chance to say more. Listen for proof of why he is real. Validating a child’s proof with a response like, “You figured that out,” is often enough.

      If she turns it around and wants to know what you think, you can say, “Sounds like you think I’m the final word on this, and the answers to any questions about what to believe are always found in your own heart. It’s what you think and feel that matters.”

      If your child pushes you more, you can say, “You want to know if the Easter Bunny is real, and there’s no proof either way. That’s the nature of a belief. You need to decide this one on your own. Let me know what you come up with.” This strengthens the child’s sense of inner guidance which is what we all want for our children. Regardless whether the child says real or pretend, you can validate her answer the same way, “You figured that out.”

      I say there is no proof either way, because when you believe in something you can explain away any inconsistencies. However, if you already don’t believe in something, every little thing becomes definitive proof as I described above.

      Since you have already told her the Easter Bunny is not real and then retracted it, you need to find out what she thinks. That’s what matters. If she decides that he is not real, it would be a good time to talk about symbols and why adults offer children pretend figures they can love and get excited about. We do that because to children, only things with a physical presence are real. They cannot truly understand abstract concepts until they reach your daughter’s age or older, so we give them “real” versions in the form of symbols of generosity, spring, new birth, etc. to hold the place of these concepts until they can grasp the meanings for themselves. When they are ready, children always make the switch.

      Although it sounds like your daughter was not quite ready to make the switch, if or when she does, you can remind her that because she has started looking for and accepting proof that he is not real, that says she is ready to step into the deeper level of understanding concepts. You can talk to her about other symbols like the butterfly, or look up more symbols with her. That way she will feel she has gained something by her new level of awareness, not lost something. When kids are ready, the abstract concepts take on the same feel of “real” that physical symbol used to hold, but it’s a deeper unshakeable kind of real. As such, the shift from pretend to real enriches their lives, it doesn’t diminish them.

      But because your daughter went right to the injustice of “everyone lying to all the little children in the world,” you can tell her what that says about her. She loves honesty; she loves knowing things; she is a champion for justice. When you talk to her about the value of providing “real” symbols for children, you can ask her if she can come up with a better way to convey abstract concepts to children for whom everything has to be “real” to exist. Becoming the problem solver can be empowering for her.

      I would love to hear what she comes up with. You can reach me at my website linked to my name or read my book there which describes exactly how to respond to anything your child says with love and respect. I hope this has been helpful.

      • 111

        Ceci Blanco says

        I cannot begin to thank you for your thoughtful reply. It’s ingenious and I will digest it well before broaching the subject with her. You make some valid points that I had not yet considered. I’m just touched that you took the time to write and share your wisdom with me with such clarity and detail. My heartfelt gratitude, and yes, I will keep you posted on her reaction(s).

      • 113

        Julia Kurskaya says

        I’v saved this post to my computer. Great words. So helpful. I should definitely read your book. THANK YOU. 🙂

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      Sherri says

      With the Santa question I always say he is a magical being and magic can only exist if you believe. So if you believe then Santa exists (and I add that I still believe in the magic of Christmas). I don’t know if this will help you with the Easter bunny. But my son still wants to believe and I will enjoy it for as long as I can!

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    Gag says

    Thank you, once again, for pushing light into the cracks. Saying what must be said. I am a firefly. And I look hungrily for your posts because I refuse to let my children feel the way I did, and you give breath to my wings. Don’t ever give up with your message: you are reaching us.

  66. 117

    Samantha says

    I was very encouraged by this post! I started choking up some (particularly when you mentioned being picked on at a young age) because I myself was the lost, the rejected, the alone when I was in school.

    I dreamed last night about getting your book in a store and giving it to my mom. I thought that was rather fascinating!

  67. 118

    amanda says

    I LOVE this! I have tears in my eyes! I too, have a little firefly. He’s quiet, sweet and frequently left behind those bounding through the playground. When I have a tough day, he still curls up into my lap at 3 1/2, and will plant a kiss on my cheek. Or do something silly that will for sure get a belly laugh out of me. Recently one of our neighbors was having a difficult family situation and we mentioned “Joe was having a bad day”. My sweet Jonah, ran next door, gave Joe a big hug and some “knuckles” and just walked away smiling. He may not be the first on the milestone checklist, or he may not be a super mini athlete, but he has the biggest light in the whole world that I feel so obligated to protect.

  68. 120

    Tamara says

    Oh my. I follow your FB feed and have your book on my nightstand but this post just brought me to tears. We just learned that my beautiful 4yr old butterfly will need a hearing aid…and my biggest fear is that she will go from being a butterfly to being a firefly whose light is overlooked because of this thing that makes her different. I am saving this post and will not just re-read it many times, but will save it for the day when my little girl needs this message as well. Thank you!

  69. 121

    Gina says

    I have a firefly.

    When she was little, she even told me that she was a firefly with a firefly family. I humored her back then; just a bit of anthropomorphic fanstasy.

    After reading this post, I asked her if she remembered when she insisted she was a firefly (she did). I asked her why she wanted to be a firefly so badly. Her reply floored me.

    “Because they have secret wings.”

    Secret wings.

    Nobody sees those wings. On summer nights, we only see their lights — dancing and enchanting. In the light of day, they look like non-descript beetles.

    My firefly loves soccer, and musical theater. She sings the songs she loves at full volume – sometimes even in tune! Her knees and elbows are a collection of scars, bruises and scabs that read like a map of her adventures.

    She whistles when doing tedious tasks, and talks to herself frequently. She reads voraciously.

    Her compassion towards others shames me. The other day, while we were stopped at a red light, she noticed a dirty looking man holding up a cardboard sign. I was doing my best to ignore him. She read the sign out loud from the back seat.

    “Out of work and homeless. Please help.” She paused. “Mom, can we help him?” Then the light turned green and we moved forward, leaving the man with the sign to the mercy of the next batch of motorists.

    A hourlong conversation ensued after that about ways we could help homeless strangers without handing them money to spend on (hopefully) food & shelter or ( possibly) drugs & alcohol.

    Now there is a jar with change in it that we are accumulating so we can buy $5.00 gift cards to coffee & sandwich shops that we can give to homeless strangers.

    She wants to be a marine biologist, a teacher, and a therapist so that she can train dolphins to be therapy animals for autistic children.

    She is amazing.

    • 122


      Thank you, Gina, for taking time to so beautiful describe your Firefly. This makes me smile and celebrate the amazing impact she already has on our hurting world. There is so much hope in our children! I am thankful for your daughter!

  70. 123

    Tammy says

    Thank you Rachael,
    This is why I love our Christian school so much. We don’t have awards ceremonies, or prize lists. We don’t have recognition of individual achievements where one child is put up above others, instead we have a motto that is “only your best is good enough your best is always good enough”. As the mother of one a butterfly and a firefly, I adore our school. The positive affirmation that your best IS always good enough means that they both recognise in themselves, each other and other children that different people have different strengths. Now, the kids all know who is the smartest, who is the fastest and who plays the best soccer, that cannot be missed, but by not rewarding a god given gift, instead by teaching it is their responsibility to make the most of their gifts, they learn to appreciate their differences.

  71. 124


    Rachel, you have such insightful girls! One of my favorite poems is “Firefly” by Eamon Grennan — in it, he talks about how we telegraph our true selves to one another like fireflies, in a series of blinks and flashes of light. Thank you for the reminder to look beyond the obvious, to keep our eyes open for the light that each person carries within. xo

  72. 125

    Cathy G says

    I have a 9 year old firefly, he’s the smallest in his year, wearing glasses, always untidy, running to catch up with the crowd. But I look at him and see the survivor who arrived 11 weeks early and fought every step of the way, who spent 11 weeks in the NICU but never needed re-admitting, who had to try so much harder than his peers to reach his milestones – but he made them all eventually. I see the boy who lights up when he reads (like his mum), who is engaged and interested by IT, science, history and facts, who came last in the first race of his school sports day – but was so proud of getting the first points for his team that day.

    I could literally burst when I think of how far he has come from that tiny 2lb 2oz baby.

    TY for this post, it’s made me count my blessings 🙂

  73. 126

    Barbara says

    I used to tell my mother that I was different than all the other kids and she would say in a not so supportive tone “what makes you so special?” Real nice Mom. I never said I was special. I said
    I was different. I’m 55 years old and I’ll never forget that.

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    Karen says

    Your beautiful words were shared with me by a parent of one of my fireflies and are a wonderful reminder of the many fireflies that I have been blessed to have taught. Blessings and I LOVE FIREFLIES!!!!

  75. 129

    Mary says

    This article brought tears to my eyes. My daughter is a firefly. She spends hours writing stories with words so vivid you feel like you are a part of the story.
    She is my beautiful, precious whirlwind. I will love and protect her always.

  76. 130

    Miranda says

    Ah well, how my life would have been different if someone had been this encouraging with me as a child.

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    Katrina Robbins says

    Oh my goodness, I cannot thank you enough for this! I have 2 precious girls. My youngest is definitely a butterfly and my about-to-be-11yo-in-2-days is a firefly!! I can see that it is hard for her when her younger sister gets so much attention, so I loved your words of encouragement that you gave your daughter in this post. My firefly soaks up books like she breathes air, has a love of learning that amazes me, has a hilariously quirky sense of humor, and has an honesty and loyalty that is breathtaking. Thank you for the reminder that at some point others will notice that light in her also!

  78. 133

    Ashley Wright says

    I have the most amazing firefly…she is sensitive and can be a introvert but is the kindest, most intelligent and intuitive five year old I know…sometimes she says to me “I’m the only sensitive girl” and I can tell she is sad about often holding herself back from joining in, despite desperately wishing to. I work hard to praise and acknowledge her amazing heart and will continue to recognize her fantastic self. She is a firefly through and through. Thank you for the reminder as we end this school year and my little firefly dreads that concert and end of year assembly..I can find a way to help her and recognize her in a way she enjoys.

  79. 134

    Jessica says

    My sweet boy is such a light, sometimes he is so bright and in your face that he is blinding. Often making it impossible for others to see what a loving, super funny and smart guy he is. But I see him. I see his heart for God and his loyalty to his friends, I see his dedication to sports he loves and the gentle friendship he’ s building with his baby brother. And even if he’s annoying to every person he sees, he’s everything to me and I couldnt breath without his shining light near me. He’s the best blessing I’ve ever been given, and I understand him and always will. Watch out world because this 5 year old is going to shake things up!

  80. 136

    Kim says

    My firefly has been struggling for the past 2 school years. She soared through pre-k without incident. However, she started a new school in Kindergarten and it has been a very tough go for her. She is so sweet and kind, sometimes she’s almost too nice to her peers. She struggles to fit in, though I can’t understand why. It breaks my heart, and as the tears run down my cheeks after an hour-long talk I just can’t understand why. I don’t want her light to be squashed. But what do you do? How do you help? It’s one thing to listen, but it’s another to act. I don’t know how to help her. I’m lost.

    • 137



      Rachel has invited me to respond to some of her readers. It’s so painful when our little firefly is hurting. We want to make the pain go away, but we can’t. The most loving thing we can do is to be with our children in the pain, so they don’t have to be in it alone and it sounds like you are very good at that. Your post is full of understanding for your child’s pain. With a mom so empathic and loving, your little one’s light won’t be squashed. It’s not the pain that dims our light, it’s the hardening of our hearts. Your kind and loving heart will keep your child’s heart soft and open to other’s pain and make her light brighter. There’s no greater gift. Communicate your empathy to her to let her know you understand. The simple skill of reflective listening is so powerful in moments of pain. To listen reflectively, just figure out the feeling your child is having and put “You’re,” “Sounds ” or “Sounds like you’re” or “Seems like you’re” in front of the feeling word. For example, if your child comes home from school saying, “I don’t have any friends, nobody likes me.” Your response would be “Sounds lonely, sweetie.” It seems like so little, but it communicates to your child that you understand, that you care, that you can handle the pain and that you are a safe place for your child to express emotions. It’s tempting to try to rescue our children from the pain, but often times that sends the wrong message. I might want to try to talk my child out of feeling lonely by saying, “Oh honey, you have lots of friends.” In my mind, I’m making it better, but my child might be hearing “I can’t handle it when you feel lonely. Put a smile on your face and tell me everything is going to be okay.” After you have been with your child in the pain, it’s okay to schedule play dates and help her nurture friendships with her peers. Getting involved in her school may help you be a position to nurture those friendships, too, but nothing is more important than what you are already doing-loving her for who she is and seeing the world through her eyes.

      Theresa Kellam

  81. 138


    This is perfect. My daughter is a firefly, while my son (who is three years younger) may be the biggest, boldest butterfly on earth. It makes it even more difficult since she is often in his shadow. Thank you so much for sharing your insight.

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    Judy says

    I am crying. I am the younger sister of an adored firefly who is still trying to see his own light, though his family and friends have seen it and encouraged it for years. I am the mother of a sensitive, quirky, loyal to the death, book crazy, loud singing firefly 10 year old daughter who would stand in front of a bullet for those she cares about, but especially for her butterfly little brother. The butterfly little brother who has enough firefly in him to realize how beautiful and special his firefly sister is and is willing to shout it out to anyone who doubts. Thank you so very much. I needed to see this today.

  83. 140

    Genisa says

    Thank you for such a beautiful post. I just wish everyone saw it like this. It hurts so very much, to be the invisible one, to try your hardest, to help others, only to be forgotten and hidden amid the massive wings of the butterflies. I’ve been a firefly for 39 years and I have two sons that are fireflies, ages 8 and 13. I can feel their hurt and their pain, because I live with it everyday of not being accepted, because I’m different.

  84. 141


    what a wonderful piece! and what a wonderful daughter you have! and what a wonderful mother she has! thank you!

    i did want to bring up one point. those the world notes as butterflies may also, in truth, be fireflies. i was a pretty little girl. i was a sweet little girl. i was a butterfly in everyone’s eyes. but, lost in their illusions of shallow importance, they didn’t take the time to discover that i was a smart little girl. and, having been told always that i was a butterfly, i didn’t pay much attention to the fact that i was a smart little girl. it wasn’t until i reached my mid twenties that i truly understood that i was a very bright woman. that i was more than a pretty face to be seen with at appropriate times. that i could create more for myself than a life as an object of shallow attributes.

    we all bring our own uniqueness to the world. we are all fireflies in some way. even the butterflies…

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    JM says

    I love analogies like this. Especially this one because, one day someone will turn out the lights and everyone will be in the dark. The butterflies will cry because their fluttering and bright colours will be useless.

    And quietly, a firefly will lead them.

  86. 145

    Kristen says

    What a beautiful story. It makes me think of my oldest son and how he was born with an over flowing amount of compassion. When he was 16 months old and my mother and her oldest dearest friend came to stay with my family while I was giving birth to my second child, Christopher walked over to the two ladies and handed them each one of his stuffed animals before we all went to bed.
    And when he was in first grade, his teacher called me at home one day to share what she witnessed at snack time. One of Christopher’s classmates was teary because his mother forgot to pack him a snack. What moved this teacher was the way my son put his arm around this other boy as he directed him to his lunchbox. Christopher didn’t just hand his classmate one of his extra snacks. He made sure this boy picked out whatever he wanted then asked if he felt better.
    Now in middle school he get mediocre grades, and though he makes the sports teams, often spends more time on the bench instead of on the court. But he always has a smile on his face, and just last week he told me how he held the door open at school for a teacher who was having trouble carring supplies to her classroom. She was so grateful that she nominated him for a ‘ pirate pride mention’ over the load speaker as a way to thank him for noticing she needed some help. The only thing is, she made the mistake of calling him by one of his classmates names and he got the recognition. Chris didn’t tell me this story, his brother did. And when I asked Chris how he felt about this he replied that he didn’t mind the mistake, he didn’t care who’s name was mentioned, he only cared that this teacher didn’t drop anything or hurt herself.
    I know this big hearted child will grow to be an even bigger hearted man. I sometimes want to pave the way for him and help him get that A plus on a school project or be chosen to be the starting player in the next game, but I resist, so he can pave his own way. I just know that my job is to stay by his side and protect his light <3

    • 146


      Your son is a gift to the world. I feel happy just knowing he is out there looking for ways to help others–and without looking for anything in return. Amazing. Thank you for allowing me to see his light tonight. It’s a beautiful thing.

  87. 147

    Deanna says

    God has blessed us with such wonderful fireflies. They won’t go unnoticed! To be one as mentioned in this post has many advantages and disadvantage. May all those who are fireflies not let the harshness of their surroundings or peers prevent them from shining for all to see (don’t let Satan blow your light out and don’t hide your light under a bussel). As their thoughtfulness and good nature continue to amaze everyone they meet. My fireflies shine and show their true colors through struggles and obstacles that are put in their way. I wish them to continue to let their light shine brightly, be true to themselves, follow their heart and know that I will always be there to listen, pray with them, and love them throughout their years.

  88. 148

    nicole cenkner says

    My little girl is a bit of both. She doesn’t receive awards because she doesn’t reach for the same things that excell a kid in school. She marches to a different rhythm. She is kind and loving and the most unique little soul I have ever met. I’ve seen her break up a fight between two little boys. She is taking guitar lessons but always prefers to just “rock out” strumming however she pleases. She talks to everyone. She loves everyone. Her heroes are Spiderman, t-rex and dad. She is my hero.

  89. 150

    Elaine says

    I read the post about “Children who shine from inside” thinking about my two grown daughters & two grown sons. Then I started to think of MY childhood of the 1960s & early ’70s because my Mom just passed away Oct 2013. I am a proud firefly & will be sharing with each of my adult children so that they can hear from me that I was always there for them if not in real life but my heart shines for them!

  90. 151

    GJ says

    Lovely Post! Really enjoyed it. I also have a firefly in my little 2.5 yr old. I absolutely love her the way she is , God gave me a perfect daughter and she is so much more brave fighter than me!!

    Just wanted to point out that sometime even Butterflies may go through a phase where they become fireflies. Its definitely no easy task being a butterfly all the time. This is from personal experience since I think it can be so devastating since everybody seems to have fun at the expense of the butterfly. Its like the world enjoys when someone at the top falls. I would say my parents and my faith in God really helped me through those times and taught me that the glory is not in never falling but getting up everytime you fall.

    Hopefully we encourage all our little one in their journeys (butterfly or firefly or mixed!!)

  91. 152

    Sione says

    I am a firefly myself and both my kids are too. All in our own unique way. We are all highly sensitive too. Although I understand very deeply (sometimes too deeply) what my kids feel and experience I just don’t always find the calmness in myself to be open with my kids. My inner light is too often overshadowed by overstimulation to let their light shine. As a highly sensitive person I struggle often to process my own emotions, which makes it almost impossible to give my kids any guidance with their emotions. It is a big personal challenge to find the inner stillness I need to connect with my kids. How do you manage to do this? You seem to have a very serene and calm home all the time.

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    Wendy&Nigel Ferreira says

    Thank you for the Firefly story. It has the power to inspire, encourage, and transform lives in a world where values are upside down.

  93. 154


    As ever, I am emotionally moved. You stir light and love of spirit into parenting, and through the fire you spread in parents’ hearts I know dozens of fireflies will glow all the brighter – thank you. All that’s left is to wait for my little guy to wake up so he can get his hug.

  94. 156

    Meghann says

    Love, love, love this! I have 4 very unique kids (each in a different way!) and I struggle to help them feel noticed and appreciated every day. My oldest son is 13 — the most awkward age for us all — and he is not an athlete. He doesn’t enjoy watching them, playing them, or even thinking about them. This makes it tough for a boy. In the last year (thanks to a very dedicated & talented teacher) he’s found a love of performing in musical theater. He’s amazing. I have been so happy to see him excelling in something and loving it at the same time.

    My older daughter is 10, a perfectionist, a straight-A student (of her own making) and is trying to grow up too fast some days & refuses to grow up on others. She is quiet, artistic, and all around lovely — even though she’s at that stage where she herself doesn’t believe it. I keep trying to help her find her “thing” that lights her up inside.

    My younger daughter is 7 and is a thinker. She is beautiful inside & out, caring, scary-smart, and tries desperately to keep up with her sister. She is also shy, insecure, reserved & very measured in her actions. She feels weird every day because she is leaps & bounds ahead of her classmates. I feel all I can do to help is hug her & tell her I love her.

    My youngest son is 4 and a bit crazy. At his young age, he is not lacking in self-confidence and he tells us every minute of every day. I pray he keeps this as he enters grade school in the coming years.

    Thanks for giving me the words I was having trouble finding on my own. This was a fantastic post.

  95. 157

    Julie Crowther says

    This is beautiful. I was a firefly….I have three lovely daughters whom I am homeschooling. It is my prayer each day that each one of them knows her deep value and wouldn’t ever compare herself even to her sister. I have two butterflies and one firefly. They are all so amazing and special….I thank God every day for them and ask for wisdom (not knowledge) on how to be the mama I was called to be… What a privilege

  96. 158

    Wendy says

    Thank you so much for your story about fireflies. I believe my daughter is a great example of someone who shines from within. She is a freshman in high school and is very concerned with fitting in. She wants to do and say whatever is the status quo. This tells me that she wants to “shine” under the radar rather than project an unmissable ray of light. My daughter always helps the underdog and encourages them to look beyond their struggle. I’m very impressed with the person she has become thus far. My little firefly is a kind, gentle soul that I couldn’t be more proud of.

  97. 159

    Monica says

    Rachel…..Thank you!!!!
    I have 5 year old identical twin boys. One a butterfly and the other a firefly. I am sad to say that it even took me some time to find my firefly boy. He is the seat-saver, the hand-holder, the one who will stand up for injustice even for a stranger, the one who bravely took a punch trying to protect a kid from an older bully in the bus. Everyone only sees our butterfly boy and the firefly is mostly left out. I know in his heart of hearts he would want to be the life of a party , with everyone paying attention to him. But he isn’t a butterfly. The one-liners, crazy tactics don’t come naturally to him. His butterfly twin makes friends easily while he struggles. As a mother my heart aches to see him like this. I wish I could walk with a sign behind him highlighting all the amazing, loving, caring things he does not just for his family or friends but strangers as well. Its a journey that we are taking together and I hope someday someone will see the light within him.

  98. 160


    This is so beautiful and so near and dear to me. I, too, have a little firefly who is meek and sweet and at 5 years, old already showing signs of lacking confidence in herself. This post reminds me to go home this afternoon, and make sure to play up her strengths and recognize her abilities and reinforce how much I love her for the person that she is, today.

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness once again. It’s wonderful.

  99. 161


    You are a really fine mother. I have two daughters who are now incredible adults. One is a mother herself and a teacher and she is great at both. The other one is on Broadway and making her way through the world as an incredible human being. If there’s one thing that I kept preaching was that what they thought of themselves was way more important than what others thought. That light that you speak of from within is their light. No one can take it away or beat it away or humiliate it away unless they give it away. I so agree with you that being there for our children and listening to them and taking them seriously is so critical. And reminding them over and over that they are in charge of their feelings, not other people. Keep up the great work.

  100. 162

    Karoline says

    Love, love, love this so much. The only thing I don’t love about it is that I am at work right now and it made me want run immediately to go find my little firefly, who is currently in school, and tell her all of the ways I see her light. Something another poster said really resonated with me–my older daughter is one of those kids who is quiet, sweet, but maybe a bit younger than her peers, if that makes any sense. She is a deep thinker, an absolutely voracious reader, and a maker of the most amazing, creative projects. She can take something that other people see as trash (old cardboard, bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, whatever) and make a castle, a car, or a musical instrument. But I know that sometimes she struggles in school because she is a little different from the rest. And as that “good kid” in class she can be overlooked by the teacher in favor of those who need more immediate attention, which means that sometimes people in her daily life don’t see how special she is. I can’t wait to go home and remind her that WE see how special she is, every single day. Thank you as always for your words. I hope you know how important they are. I wish you guys were moving to MD. We have a great swim team for your girls and I would be your emergency contact anytime! 🙂

  101. 164

    Karen Cooper says

    This post left me in tears, in a wonderful way. My 6 year old fits exactly this description. She just sees the world differently. She told me yesterday, that while she has a few friends in her Kindergarten class, that she often feels lonely. She goes off in her own world, and as a result tunes a lot out. I see kids approach her to say hello and play, and she often misses it entirely because she is so immersed in the story she is telling in her head. It is heartbreaking to see her miss these social opportunities, knowing that she is feeling their loss later, even as she can’t see herself missing them (if that makes sense). I see how unique, and funny she is, as do her teachers. I worry that she will have a hard time showing this to her peers.

    It is particularly difficult, as my 5 year old daughter is a leader in her class. They are the best of friends and look out for each other, however, I worry about this dynamic once they are in the same school.

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I am looking forward to sharing your words with my firefly. (For the record, I have never responded to a blog post before – this just really spoke to me in a very powerful way.)

  102. 165


    Beautiful just beautiful. I know lots of fireflies and butterflies and as a scout leader go out of my way to reward and praise the fireflies whether they go unnoticed because they are very quiet or because they can’t sit still and conform to what school expects in its ‘one size fits all’ environment. Thank for putting it into words – I will be sharing this with my own son.

  103. 166

    ppkhalsa says

    This brought tears to my eyes and I’m passing it along to my 23 year old daughter, who is definitely a firefly, as well as to many of her firefly friends. I watched this happen to her and her friends so many times over the years. And I was one of the only adults tho really SAW them for who they were. Thank you for your eloquent and touching words and for your insight and wisdom.

  104. 167

    Kelly says

    Hi Rachel!
    All of your articles resonate with me and this one was just beautiful. I think I will put your firefly poem in a frame with one of my favorite pictures of my little firefly for her birthday. Thank you for sharing your thoughts it definitely helps me to keep things in perspective:)

  105. 169

    Veronica Lucas says

    A recently ran into an old school friend and came to realise that I am a Firefly! At school we all at some stage feel different and awkward. For some however, that feeling hangs around. It is a beautiful analogy.

  106. 171

    Rachel says

    I am deeply and positively moved by your writing today. I too am a parent of two beautiful, loving and caring firefly’s who often wonder how they fit into the world that seems so full of extroverted personalities. I love my eldest’s firefly’s ability to notice the little things that would otherwise go unnoticed and the way she so eloquently shares those insights. I love my youngest firefly’s ability to notice how people are feeling and finding ways to uplift and care for those who need it. I let my children know how special their gifts and talents are as often as possible. I love your words, and I will make a poster to share these words with my firefly’s. Thank you for sharing. Love and light to all the firefly’s.

  107. 172

    Janet Craig says

    Tears in my eyes! I have a firefly, am a firefly and teach many fireflies in my Kindergarten class! Great and important read!

  108. 173

    Angela says

    This makes me cry. I was definitely a firefly as a kid. Your daughter is unbelievably lucky to have you as her mama, one who understands her better than anybody else. I will certainly remember this if my kids turn out to be fireflies when they are a little older. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  109. 174

    Marianne says

    Wow…this truly resonated with me. A friend of a friend whom I only met once at a social event 15 years ago, wrote me this poem on a napkin before we parted ways:
    ”If I were made a butterfly, I would only sparkle and fly, sparkle and fly…
    But, God made me a firefly to shine forever more, so I can live forever and more”
    After reading this post, I had to find it again. Making a collage with it for my own little firefly!

  110. 175


    Your daughter might enjoy this YouTube video clip. As I started reading your post, I was already singing that song in my head. (My little boys LOVE this song from that episode of Sesame Street!!!!!)
    Sesame Street’s Firefly Song

  111. 176

    Mel says

    Your beautiful gift of insight never ceases to amaze and inspire me Rachel. It occurred to me whilst reading this particular post that your little firefly has not only inherited your gift, but that your path is being strongly guided by what she needs to learn from you, so that one day she too will be making a positive change in the world.

  112. 177

    Serena says

    Your story was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. I am not a mother, but I am a teacher for children with autism. Next year will be my 3rd year teaching my class who are all boys! I am thinking about my theme for next year and now want to do a bug/firefly theme! I think your story was inspiring and hope to be as wise as you when I am a mother. Thank you again for sharing!

  113. 178

    Erica says

    Thank you for such a beautiful article. I wept as I read this thinking of my 10 year old who has Selective Mutim – a social anxiety disorder making it difficult to use your voice in many social situations. She’s an awesome speller but won’t participate in the spelling bee – she has a magnificent singing voice, but most likely wouldn’t get the solo because only her close family has heard her voice(I could go on) She’s different and definitely a Firefly and I too hope that one day everyone else sees that light that I see in her. Thanks, again.

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    Belinda Conyers says

    My daughter is 18 years old, a senior in high school. She has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Two Christmases ago she received a “Christmas Jar”, (a Mason jar filled to the brim with coins and bills, left anonymously on our porch on Christmas Eve. The jar was accompanied by the book by the same name. Part of the fun and magic of getting a Christmas Jar is passing it forward the next year). My daughter is a very smart and articulate girl and for the past two or three years had come from school on many occasions in tears, saying that “Marcella”, a classmate, had been mean to her, called her names, even tried to get physical with her once. She basically tortured my daughter with her meanness. Last year as Chrsitmas time approached, I started thinking about who we should choose to give the Christmas jar to. When I asked my daughter to think of someone who could use some magic, some money, a feeling of wonder and awe at being chosen by someone to receive a special gift, she said, without a moment’s hesitation, “Marcella”. I was very surprised to hear her say that! She explained that Marcella had recently found out she was pregnant and would be having the baby in a few months. Her father had apparently died a few months before and my firefly, with her kind and beautiful heart, knew that this would really lift her spirits. Talk about an inner light! I don’t know when I’ve had a prouder moment…………………

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    I have 2 “bright and shiny” butterflies and 2 “inner glow” fireflies, and I would put my husband in the butterfly category and myself in the firefly. I love our differences and how we all draw the best out in each other and learn from each other.
    For the fireflies-I would give awards for empathy, serving without being asked, sharing feelings through dance and long hugs instead of words, listening patiently, the art they create that brightens our days.
    For the butterflies– making us laugh, starting hard conversations, the magnetic ability to draw us all into a room together, for making the plans that get us out in the world, for taking risks.

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    I’ve got one firefly and one butterfly. This resonated so deeply with me for many reasons. Off to share it like crazy!

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    Dena says

    I cried reading this. I have struggled for years because all three of my boys are fireflies. They are not athletic, which I feel, the world puts too much emphasis on. They are not ever recognized for their talents. They are gifted. But schools don’t give out trophies for that. They don’t even recognize that fact. But their dad and I see their gifts. We see their talents. But sometimes it is hard when the parents of the butterflies are bragging. But bragging about sports trophies are acceptable. But you can not brag if your child is gifted. You can’t even share that bit of info. If you do, you are looked down upon. Bragging about giftedness is not acceptable.

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    Nancy Bowen says

    I loved your firefly analogy. As a First grade teacher, I try to see the beauty in all my little faces and it is joy to be there teacher I have so many different types of children and they all have a place in my heart and they know I love them. Thanks again for spreading the message of love!

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    Alison says

    I have a firefly.He’s 18 now.Left school.He got teased a lot at school for being quiet,not particularly good at school work.Had few friends.never got invited much to parties, not a social butterfly,was always the one who had his things broken,stolen,or just borrowed never to be seen again.
    He is sensitive to other peoples needs, he is loving,kind,generous,funny,understanding,placid,beautiful!
    He is the most sincere human being I have ever met.And I know, One day, someone else will see this firefly in him and he will make a wonderful husband,father,work colleague,friend.
    I have two older sons, who ARE butterflies.Also lovely young men, but, my firefly………….

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    Dana says

    Oh, thank you for posting this! It is so beautiful. I am an older adult, almost ready for senior discounts and I am a firefly. Your message resonated with me and I needed to hear it. Also, as a teacher I always love and try to encourage the “fireflies’ in my class because they are unique and I understand them. The butterflies already have plenty of people to notice them.

    Teachers need to read this and treasure those wonderful fireflies! They are the thinkers and dreamers who keep magic and wonder and hope alive!

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    Angie says

    As a teacher and a parent, I love this. I teach middle school, and so many kids have covered up their lights or have let others extinguish them because they march to the beat of a different drummer. With crushing pacing and standardized testing, we can often overlook those amazing fireflies and what they bring to the table. I have a soft spot for those kids that are shy, querky, a little off the beaten path; they will change the world and make it a better place.

    Thanks for your beautiful words. I will look at my children and students with a renewed sense of compassion, hope and love for my fireflies, butterflies and many other beautiful creatures that grace my classroom everyday.

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    Missie says

    I have a firefly, my 8 yr. old Reid, who has Down Syndrome. The people that see his light are as special as he is. On another note, I wanted to share my hands free moment this weekend. I was playing a very long game of Monopoly inside (we finally had a sunny day) with my son. I told him “can’t believe we are in here on such a beautiful day” and he said “but you’re spending time with your quality son” , not quality time with your son. 🙂 I had to smile as he was so right!

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    Courtney L. says

    I have a firefly, and I am going to share this post with her as soon as she gets home from school. My heart hurt last night as she tearfully talked about the girls at school who don’t play with her, for whatever reason. She is tender-hearted, and kind, and thoughtful, and wants to be everyone’s friend. I searched for the right words… the ones that would be a balm for her soul. I’ve found them here. Thank you.

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    Heather says

    From one firefly to the mother of another, thank you so much for this post. I was moved to tears and feel so grateful that my mum has done for me what you have done for your daughter and seen the light in me and helped me to let it shine. What a precious moment you shared with her! I hope I get to have many of those with my son as he grows.

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    Siobhan says

    Your writing is absolutely beautiful, as is your firefly daughter. I have a firefly too – a bright, beautiful, generous, funny little soul who feels her difference. I felt mine too as a child. It scares her, and I hope that I can find ways to make her difference less full of fear for her. Thank you for affirming what I instinctively know to be true: that my job is to protect her light, to nurture it, to validate it, to celebrate it. My little one finds the world harsh sometimes. My job is to be her sanctuary.

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    Eleanor says

    I was that firefly for most of my life. Now my special education students are my fireflies. They inspire me and I them. It’s good to be a firefly! Sometimes the light just takes a bit of time to shine through. Especially for one’s self~

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    Hayley says

    My little man struggles at school. I’ve been so focused on his academic struggles I haven’t praised him for what he is good at. All the mums and teachers tell me what a wonderful, caring child he is and how much they look forward to hearing him read each week. I love my little firefly x

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    Bethany says

    Dear Rachel, I have quietly been following your journey and diligently been reading your posts. Thank you for all that you do, and share, to help others continue to reflect and grow. I look forward to wearing a daily reminder soon (hopefully a Mother’s Day gift.)

    Your firefly post spoke to my heart. I love a firefly and teach many. My students call me the feelings teacher because I am a school counselor and they know that I help with “that stuff.” We have a book in our library called “I Wish I Were A Butterfly” by Howe. You made me think of it because the kids really seem to enjoy hearing about a cricket that wishes it could be special and finally realizes that he is.

    We are trying to honor National Screen-Free Week in our house and it is refreshing, eye-opening, good.

    I wish you great joy and contentment! Thank you, again, for being willing to share what many of us feel.

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    This story made me tear up. It’s so beautifully written and reminded me so much of my little boy. Our little fireflies are the sweetest little things, and it’s so sad that the world doesn’t appreciate them from the very beginning. It makes me sad that they have to go through so much before their light becomes clear to others. But then again, that may be why they make such strong, wonderful adults.

    I wrote a book about feeling different. I just published it last week on Smashwords, and yesterday on Amazon. It’s about a little girl called Lilly who feels different, which makes her sad, and her mother explains to her how important it is for the world to have different people. The book is called Thank Goodness for Different. It’s an incredible coincidence that stumbled upon your blog post now. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

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    Amy U says

    Thank you. This touched me to tears.

    I tire of the hectic nature of our lives during the school year…….actually, I resent it. I don’t like how much our culture places pressure on our children. I try to slow it down as much as I am able, for my children’s sake (& mine).

    I so enjoyed Spring Break with my two children. We really connected and enjoyed the pace of life. Two nights ago, my 8 year old daughter & I shared a moment in time that so reminds me of this article. We spoke….she shared….I listened……we hugged. It was nice. It was quiet. I was so happy to have the opportunity to be there for her, with her. I could tell it was as meaningful to her as it was to me.

    Thank you for sharing your moment.

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    Corrie says

    I had tears in my eyes. I have a firefly, a girl with gifts that often go unnoticed. My girl who has to work extra hard at all she does. My girl that is so full of anxiety is this world that seems too much for her. My girl who has overcome so very much. I am fiercely proud of her. I often feel sad when a friend says that their child is reading two levels above their grade or that their child got an A on their math test. I’ve had to remind myself that they have a right to brag about their child, everyone does. That they aren’t doing it to be mean and point out the weaknesses in my child. But it hurts, I admit it does. My girl probably won’t ever win any academic awards. But I always cheer her on for her courage to do what scares her, and that is just about everything. She is the bravest girl I know and has taught me to face my own fears. My girl knows in the deepest parts of her Who she belongs to and Who her source of strength must come from. My girl knows that love casts out fear and she loves as best she can. Thanks for reminding me to see that light in her and protect that light.

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    Meike says

    Hi, I used to be a firefly, still do I think. Those words and looked when I was little were really hurt. Now I have two fireflies, who never got any certificates from school. Initially I was upset with that certificates for those beautiful butterflies, but always missed on my fireflies. Now I know, deep down they are shinny firelies whose school can’t even put a category for the certificate, because they are just too shinny, way beyond measure.

    Thanks a for the analogy. I am a stronger firefly now..

    As I always said to my kids, not everyone was born as a hare, but guess who the winner of the race was..? The tortoise.

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    CC says

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and precious moment with your daughter, she is truly blessed to have such a caring and intuitive Mum! I got all teary reading this as I understand the firefly analogy all too well. I ended up singing “this little light of mine” towards the end 🙂

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    Mary W. says

    Working in a nationally ranked charter high school counseling office, I have seen numerous “fireflies” who were so afraid they weren’t as smart as the “butterflies” and wouldn’t do well in college. Helping them see their own special light was the most satisfying part of my job–more so than seeing the “butterflies” rake in the accolades! I have since retired, and have found that those “fireflies” are the ones who continue to stay in touch with me and have become fine young adults! We will always be connected by love! If only every teacher and counselor would take the time to look for those little lights!

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    Sarah Rowley says

    Thankyou for putting into words what I have felt my whole life….firefly to butterfly to ladybird to ant…we all have lights that can shine and every single child needs know this…not just the butterflies…..

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    Fireflies are my favorite part of Spring. They quietly remind me that good times are here and better times are on the way. I used to catch them on the farm I grew up on as a child. Firefly is also one of my favorite TV shows. But I’ve never thought of them the way you put it. Thank you for writing about it.

    My firefly is my fourteen-year-old daughter. She can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t do anything for herself. But with the help of her mother and others, she thrives. She is a lover. And yes, she glows. Her smile and laughter are bright and infectious. She makes others glow. She is my firefly.

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    I can’t even tell you how timely this article is for me. I have two boys ages 12 and 8. Both are loving, funny, sensitive and smart kids. They both do well in school but athletically they don’t excel but have a good time until this past week. My older one was somewhat mildly bullied as he may not be the fastest or competent on the field. His feelings were hurt by some that he thought were friends. I feel sad for him but have tried to educate him to stand up for himself. He was brought up not to talk back to adults or others so this is a hard thing for him to do.

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    Your posts always remind me that no matter how stressful my grown up world is, my babies need me to see their pains and fears. I should be their soft place to fall in this harsh world.

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    This is just beautiful! Having been a firefly and having a child who is a firefly this piece really hit home. I love how you let your daughter have her feelings and let her know that she could always come to you. The other day my very sweet artistic firefly asked me is he was normal. My heart broke a little for him because I remember not feeling like I ever fit in. And it wasn’t till I was older that I realized it was more than okay that I didn’t. We had a similar conversation that you and your daughter had and I loved how he hugged me a little tighter that night. Thanks again!

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    Wow, that was so beautiful a story, so moving. I don’t even have kids and it brought tears to my eyes. I wasn’t a butterfly either then, but I did grow into one. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the underdog, lol. I think your little firefly got her inner light from her momma 🙂

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    Trevor Barton says

    Hi Rachel. Thank you for your beautiful writing. I am an elementary school teacher in Greenville, SC. Here is a story I wrote about one of our 1st grade fireflies.

    I am aware of Paola’s poverty.

    Nine out of 10 students at our school come from families whose income level meets the federal poverty guidelines. Paola, an immigrant from El Salvador, is one of them. The first-grader lives in a small apartment with her grandma, mom, sister and uncle. Combined, the adults earn less than $25,ooo a year.

    Her family’s income means that Paola is likely to suffer from poor nutrition, inadequate health care, an inferior education and a bad future. I’m struggling against her life-crushing poverty with all of the compassion, creativity and commitment within me.

    While I’m aware of her poverty, today I celebrate her riches.

    Today I see her as Paola, first-grade hero, with compassionate eyes, an intuitive mind and a big heart.

    Her teacher introduces a new student, Nate.

    “Hi,” Paola whispers to him as he sits down beside her. “I’m glad you’re in our class.”

    She doesn’t know the story of the suffering that brings him to our school, but perhaps she recognizes something familiar in his taut face, quivering voice and shaking hands.

    “This is your journal. It goes in your desk, like this,” she explains. “These are our crayons and markers. You can use them if you want to. Don’t worry. There’s lots to learn. I’ll help you.”

    I’ll help you.

    I love that Paola reached out to the new student. I commend her empathy. I can learn from her.

    Later that day, I sat beside Paola in the lunchroom.

    I asked her what had made her help Nate.

    “Oh, I remember when I was the new student,” she said. “And sometimes I feel the way he looked when he sat down beside me. I just wanted to be kind to him. It helps when people are kind to me. He’s my neighbor.”

    Yes, I’m aware of Paola’s poverty. But today I’m aware of her riches, too. I curse her poverty and will fight like hell for nutritional aid for low-income mothers-to-be and young children, quality public schools, aid to low-income college students and universal health care. But I’m thankful it hasn’t hardened her heart. I’m thankful her heart is soft and sympathetic to the world around her.

    And I’ll follow her example and say, “I’ll help you. I just want to be kind to you,” to all of my suffering neighbors.

    Thanks for showing me the way, Paola.

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    Butter fires says

    What a beautiful post. You are an excellent writer. I am the mom of a 12-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter who have butterfly bodies but are trapped in firefly minds and insecurities. Somehow my husband and I put our recessive traits together and created two gifted athletes but both of them are incredibly shy and struggle in social situations. Finding your post tonight was so appropriate as I just had a wrenching conversation with my daughter at dinner having to help her through her social situations with girls that are just plain mean. I’ve always seen that she has wings and light but she doesn’t know that she has them. I know that there’s a light within and I feel determined to help her find it. My husband and I are both fireflies so it’s no wonder that they have firefly in them.

    I also took on a second career and this is my first year as a third-grade teacher at a disadvantaged school. Society has created so many fireflies. I pledge to help them, my own children, and generations to come to find their own light. I’ve told my students all year that I love and except them for who they are, and not for who I want them to be. My school has a big award ceremony for our last day of school next week and I made a point that all of my students will get a special award….fireflies included.

    Thanks for your beautiful words

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      Thank you for taking the time to share your story. It has touched me. I am especially grateful for the work you do for all our children. I worked in a similar setting with children that had behavior disorders. No one had ever seen their “light within” so I made that my purpose — more than academics and social skills, I wanted each child to know they had a light.

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      Yes! Write a Fireflies children’s book to encourage those kids who don’t seem so special to make the world a better place as their own special sort of firefly! Rachel, you would be a terrific children’s book writer, and it would complement your current book and blog perfectly. Go for it. Partner with a great illustrator, and it will sell and bless.

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    Carole O says

    What a beautiful story! I, too, am a hands-free mom – and my kids are 16 and 19. I would rather play in the dirt and water with my kids than clean my house. The dust will always be there – the children will not. Now, I teach at an arts-based charter school, grades 5-8. At the end of the first year, we had the kids write thank-you letters to the founder. Fully 70% of them mentioned that they had been either bullied or ignored at their previous schools because they didn’t fit in. One girl assured him that she would have committed suicide if she would have had to stay at her previous school. The students thanked him for giving them the chance to be around other kids who “understood.” I live daily among fireflies.

    I am also the yearbook editor. While this year’s edition is closed, I am asking permission to use your words in next year’s yearbook. Your urging to keep doing what makes you happiest fits in perfectly with our mission of acceptance and encouragement. I watched our skaters shine last night, and will watch our musicians and vocalists shine today.

    • 218


      Thank you for sharing your story, Carole. It is so powerful. Thank you also for the work you do with our precious fireflies.

      If you wouldn’t mind emailing me about the request, I can speak to my publisher about it. They are very interested in me making it into children’s book so I will have to see if that won’t create a conflict. Thank you so much.

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    Heather says

    I am a teacher reaching the end of a difficult school year in a new school with a lot of ‘butterflies’ and a lot of parents who want their children to be ‘butterflies’. It’s true that those children are recognized so much more often. And it saddens me to see parents competing for that kind of recognition, without celebrating the ‘fireflies’ they might have. Your blog for me came at a perfect time. With your permission, I would like to quote your firefly celebration. I would like to give several students a little note they can read and hopefully be encouraged by before they leave my classroom this year.

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    Lina says

    This story is so touching! I’ve known a few fireflies, including myself I think, and I think they need to hear something like this now and again. I have an almost 10-month-old daughter and I make sure every day that she knows how much I love her, because when she comes into the age when kids at school will be cruel, she’ll have the confidence to know that she is important. Thank you!

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    I am literally in tears reading this, and I think this is said so perfectly. My latest blog post, funny enough, follows right along with this, in a sense. I think that there is nothing so well said as this. Thank you for writing this and putting it so beautifully.

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    Christine says

    I have a firefly, too. The things she would say would cut to the very center of my heart because I have also been there and felt her pain. Even into college when she told me her freshman year that she didn’t think anyone would ever want to be her roommate (false, by the way – she lived with 3 other girls her sophomore years, 2 of which have been her roommate every year since. My firefly has found her light and is graduating summa cum laude from a good university as a Wildlife Biology Major. She loves working with snakes. I can’t help by think it’s her way of helping something else that no one likes. She has an incredible boyfriend and a lot of wonderful friends who are not butterflies either, but who follow their dreams. I think that being a butterfly is easier, but the passions that fireflies have – the very passions that keep that fire a light – give being a firefly so much value and reward in the end.

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    i’m glad she likes the fireflies. :]

    and i totally get how she feels about everybody always choosing the butterflies.

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    Liz Anderson says

    I have two firefly daughters. They both ride horses, and they definitely shine from within! This is lovely. Thank you!

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    Tina says

    I came across this beautiful story the day after my son’s track and field meet at school. He did not win a single ribbon and was quite discouraged about it. Later that day, while playing ball hockey, more aggressive players from his own team were taking the ball away from him during the game, capping off an already not-so-great day for him. He is way above average in height but hasn’t found his ‘groove’ yet with his long limbs. People think he is way older than he is and expect a lot from him. He is my firefly. He is a kind and gentle boy who plays fair above all else. He will always give a “good job” or “good try”, making him a wonderful team mate and makes friends easily. Thank you for this thought-provoking story and I have shared it because I think it is absolutely beautiful.

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    Momma firefly2 says

    Thank you for this.

    I too have a firefly who shines from within. I never realized that even 4 year olds can be cruel. When all the girls at school wanted to be princesses, my firefly wanted to be a pirate. When they were all asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, the majority answered princess or mermaid. My firefly answered veterinarian so she could help sick animals. Being only 4, she is a foster mother to many sick animals. She wakes up early to feed them and goes to bed well past a normal bedtime so that she can sing songs to her animal friends. Her heart is so full of something that I never seen before. She just gets it. She understands compassion. She is the firefly who will wear whatever she is feeling that day. Sometimes we look homeless. I have taken it for granted at times especially when the fancy moms at school make comments, I down play it. I love my firefly for all that she is. She sings loudly and does not care who hears. She asked for acting lessons when all the other kids asked to take ballet. The teachers have told me that she is socially not as advanced because she is so shy and doesn’t play on the playground. She prefers to sit with the teachers and tell them stories (I fear the stories she tells). She wears high heels wherever she goes or flip flops during a snow storm. She wears bright feathers in her hair and hot pink converse with her fancy dresses. She had a choice of several hundred leotards for gymnastics and she choose Wonder Woman with the gold shimmer and bright stars. I couldn’t be anymore in love with her uniqueness. She spends hours doing math and counting up to 500 and wants to learn what is beyond that. Being only 4, she is so much more than I ever was. When she tells me someone made fun of her, my heart breaks. I wanted to grab that child and tell them they are the mean girl. She is brilliant, beautiful, funny, and all mine. I love my firefly with all my heart<3

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    Stacie says

    Love this analogy. Reminds me of a children’s book that comes with an amazing audio CD– the voice of little Leo will stay with you forever–Leo the Lightning Bug by Eric Drachman. We borrowed it often from our library.

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    Laurie says

    I read this from HuffPost today on fb, and thought of this chilren’s book by James Howe, “I Wish I Were a Butterfly.” That would be a great one to read with your firefly to continue this conversation. :o)

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    Dana says

    Oh my, how I needed this today. My eldest firefly left for his second day of his junior year in high school. His freshman year was rough, sophomore year easy, and I’m hoping the first day isn’t a sign of how this year will go. He is the smartest, funniest, and most sensitive kiddo – definitely a firefly. Thank you.

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    Hi Rachel—this is such a beautiful post and such an important message to keep teaching our children (and ourselves). As parents it is so important to steward our children though the sometimes rocky terrain of life and give them all the tools they need to preserve that beautiful light that we are all blessed with. Coincidentally, I recently wrote a children’s book, “Firenze’s Light”, about a firefly who is on a journey to find the courage to share her gifts and let her light shine. There were moments in your post when I felt like I was reading directly from the book! I hope you will have a look at it (it’s available on or and would be a perfect reinforcement for all you are doing to teach your fireflies. Thank you!!!

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    A friend posted this. It is your first blog post I have read and I am so glad I took a moment to read it.

    Oh my word. I love this. It sang to my heart…..Oh you have no idea. I am a firefly, who fought for too many years to try to morph into a butterfly, raising a firefly who is often out-shined by a sibling who is a butterfly. I have taken to saying, quite frequently, “I notice. Don’t worry I notice.”
    I always get a muffled “thank you” and a hug from the firefly who never hugs anyone.

    • 234


      “I notice. Don’t worry, I notice.” These are powerful, life-giving words. If you don’t mind, I will start using them too. Thank you for sharing. Lots of love to you & your precious Firefly!

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    You always know just what to say to your children! I long for the conversations you have with your beautiful girls. I have two fireflies and a butterfly – all under five years old – and sometimes I feel like they’re all June bugs or crickets. Only love today – tomorrow is going to be an Only Love Today day.

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    Lizzy says

    TEARS. I’m new to your blog, I’ve read just a handful of posts so far, but this is my favorite. I have a precious, tender firefly I love with all my heart–thank you for giving him a name

  159. 239


    Since my daughter’s diagnosis (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in 2004, my family has been riding a roller coaster. The unknown of the next dip, climb, and turn has been both frightening and exhilarating, but we are always looking ahead to the next adventure on the ride.

    On yet another crazy climb on the coaster, I came across your blog post that spoke directly to my heart. Although not written specifically about children with exceptional learning needs, your words are an empowering MUST read for parents of and professionals that work with exceptional learners.

    I am also working on my Masters in Educational Therapy and my goal as an Educational Therapist will be to help all of our fireflies shine bright! While working with exceptional learners and their families, I seek to help them identify and celebrate their differences while also targeting their unique learning needs. In my heart, this is the key to demystifying and unlocking their learning struggles.

    To My Little Firefly, who turned 13 today, and all of the Fireflies out there … SHINE ON!

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    Tonya says

    I realize this is an older post, but I was just introduced to your blog by a dear friend. She sent me this post today after watching my sweet little firefly get left out again by her friends. She is 8 and watching her get left out more and more is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. She was diagnosed with autism a few years ago, and while she is high functioning, she is different. But she’s the one who will look for the left out kids. She’s the one who wants to be a missionary who works in an orphanage. She has such a sweetness about her. She draws a picture for everyone we know. She’ll giver her favorite toys away if someone even mentions they like it. I couldn’t be more proud of my sweet firefly. Thank you for this post, I truly needed to read it today.

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    I just read this for the first time today. And then I re-read it, again and again. I can’t tell you how much I love this. It resonated so deeply, as someone who is a firefly, who always has been, who felt different as a little girl, who searches for all the other fireflies out there. I love it. Thank you, so much.

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    Elizabeth Day says

    The Simple words of “Thank you” don’t seem to adequately quantify my appreciations for these words. I want you to know that I am thankful for your life, your experiences, and your willingness to openly share your heart.

    I’m a firefly. I never received awards. I’ve never been good at usual things. I’ve always been different from the rest…. but in a good way. But days do come when you begin to wonder if the “special” you feel really is a good thing.

    Thank you for reminding me it is good. Thank you for spurring me on to continue being a joyful light, even if/ especially when it is not the norm.

    My love and blessing to you and your family!

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    Amanda says

    Thank you for this! I suspect our school counselor read this last year and created a new award at our school: The Firefly Award. Both of my kids recieved this award last year and it meant a great deal to them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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    I think this may be my favourite ever! Im a firefly and i have two little fireflys too but i definitely see their light and thank you for shining yours rachel xx

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    Rachel, this post made me choke up… I’ll admit it. I am sharing this with my two wonderful daughters because have so much within that they let shine. They sang in front of a group last night and had such a good time sharing their talents with their friends. Thank you for writing such wonderful posts that really encourage people to think about how they treat others.

    You’re a firefly too, and it shines through your writing!

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    I don’t know what to call this except a service to humanity. As someone who almost had her light extinguished because it blazed so brightly people thought they would burn, I know the importance of nurturing that light and not being afraid of it. I’ve alway wondered how to sum up what I do and now I know that I nurture the light within the invisible fireflies.

    Thank you for clarifying this process in such a beautiful way.

    Lots of love and light,

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    I am still crying, so this comment may be messy. I have two fireflies, you described my boys. Our eldest was killed when he was 25, our surviving son is soon to be 28. I have so few words, please know that you have touched my heart. I only wish that I could have had just a drop of your mothering wisdom when my boys were small. Thank you for your beautiful words.

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    Tears streamed as I read this. My heart filled and ached. I have 2, if not 3, fireflies of my own and this was probably the most beautiful post that I have ever read (and I read a lot). Thank you. Thank you for reminding us to SEE our children and to teach them to see themselves and others. You and your words are wonderful gifts in this world.

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    Jena says

    Dear Rachel,

    Thank you for this beautiful post. After I read this last year, it has inspired me to do something different for our Annual Prize & Presentation day this year. So the theme for the event was : ‘Glowing from Within’. We intentional seeking the light that shines, seeking the fireflies…. It was just so awesome. Thank you.

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    Thank you, Rachel, for the shout out to all the fireflies in the house. They may not be much to look at in the light of day, with their dark bodies and unremarkable wings. But when the world goes dark, and all the butterflies with it, their little firefly bellies shine like candles in the night sky. “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world” (William Shakespeare). The way I see it, we could use more fireflies in the world.

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    Lynn Moline says

    I grew up a firefly with two butterflies and now have four adult children all who are uniquely fireflies and am so very proud of the outstanding, compassionate adults they all are. It can be hard at times being a firefly and also harder being a parent of a firefly but looking back the journey was worth it.

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    Brianne Strong says

    I was never a firefly, never all that unique or special. I was just a regular old butterly, took the same path as most people do… never stood out in a crowd for any reason. But my son is surely a firefly. We just dealt with our first bullying incident and my heart is broken, so broken. I don’t even know if it was intentional bullying, but my heart cries for him nonetheless. Thank you so, so, so much for the reminder that he is most certainly a Firefly. I needed the reminder to remember that he is uniquely beautiful, and that I have to encourage and build him up daily so that even if the world tries to snuff his light, he knows he always has a place where he can shine!

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    Julia L.Smith says

    I choked up as I started reading this and then the tears just flowed freely! I’m 50 yrs old and this sent me straight back to my childhood. I was always a firefly and guess I still consider myself one. Self-acceptance came thru lots of life lessons. With you as a Mother, your firefly will be just fine!

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    holly says

    Absolutely loved reading this. Too often i see parents dismissing their child’s fears and hurt. I’m glad to know there are parents having good and positive moments with their kids. 🙂

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    amy says

    Thank you. I read this the day after a school awards assembly and notice that my 7th grade daughter, whose friends had all gotten an award for choir recognition, have no idea what they were recognized for, had not received one in her favorite thing to do. Sing. After this assembly of awarding kids to award kids, I wondered if my kid had not worked hard enough in classes to be noticed. I had interactions with a few of her teachers and they all praised her by saying how polite and a joy to have in class. So that was the recognition that I and she needed to hear. But it is something I tell her daily. And to her embarrassment, hug her daily.

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    Denise Bryan says

    Dear Rachel,
    I’m an elementary principal in Michigan. I read your firefly story this morning to our 5th graders and their parents. So privileged to teach fireflies, and ladybugs, and butterflies, and walking sticks, and cicadas, and leaf bugs. Thank you for your insight and gentle words. You perfectly captured what a beautiful place the world is when we capture the unique light in every child.

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    Thank you – this was lovely. I have three little fireflies I love dearly… my own three – never quite the butterflies… they are far rarer and a little out of their element.. nevertheless, they shine brightly….. under the right conditions…

    Thank you for putting into words what my heart has been saying to my children since the day I met each of them.

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    Ellie Belleza says

    I have two fireflys…one devours a 357 page book in one sitting; asks for bookshelves for Christmas! The other sticks up for the lost, the rejected, the alone; he is always the one at recess including that one kid that was standing alone. Both shine so brightly, yet I worry no one notices. I do, their Dad does…that’s enough for now. 🙂

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    Lisa Gangi says

    Beauteous and beautiful. My daughter is also a firefly, artistic and funny and giving; I just read this and felt so deeply touched that I scrolled back up, went over to her, and read it aloud to her. We both cried emotively, her feeling so affirmed, and then we had a beautiful talk about her starting junior high school next week. Thank you, Rachel. Thank you for once again reminding me to be a hands-free mama. <3

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      Lisa – Thank you for taking the time to tell me this. I cry with you both. I celebrate your Firefly today and pray that her enter into Jr. High is smooth. May she find a kindred spirit to walk beside her.

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    Jenny says

    I work at a school built especially for fireflies. Thank you for putting into words exactly what my heart feels every time I see one of them shine in their own unique way!

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    Such a wonderful post, and some great inspiration for those parents who might not know what to say, as well as potentially good for those fireflies to read.

    My son’s only young, and hasn’t really experienced any of the struggles and conflict that comes when older. But he’s still noticed that not everyone gets the same shout outs as others. One of his nurseries has a star board, and there’s a star put on (I presume each week) for children who’ve done something good. A few weeks into seeing the board grow, I asked what the children had to do to get a star, and why N wasn’t yet on there (all the other children from his nursery days had been). The staff member told me that N was always good and helped out, and it was usually the children who weren’t as good who got the stars to help encourage them. I felt so sad for him. Not once has he had a star, because it appears the good don’t get encouragement. I had to talk that through with him and explain that he was appreciated in other ways – the thank yous, and choice of meals, asking of his opinion about things. But I still felt sad for him, and peeved as a parent that his name hasn’t been on the board.

    Hopefully I’ll still be able to help him have his confidence and self assurance as my mum did to me through school.

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    This reminds me of conversations my mother had with me during my tween and teen years. I definitely was and still am a firefly, but she encouraged my light in many ways. I remember the feeling when she actually told me about my virtues in plain English. It was like a light had been shone on parts of me that I couldn’t see otherwise, and I still treasure that memory over a decade later. Affirmation is a powerful thing. To this day my mother insists that I was born for a great purpose and that I am going to do something wonderful and life-changing, despite my becoming completely disabled within the last five years. She STILL insists that I have a great destiny, and that’s a thought that buoys me up when everything seems to be crumpled and destroyed from the pain and frustration and the myriad other elements of hardship.

    As you said, don’t wait to tell a firefly how special they are. That could be the thing that catapults them into a blaze of ecstasy.

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    SarahD says

    I read this post around when you first posted it, and I knew then that my son was my firefly. I do my best to protect his light, when I manage to glimpse it. Tonight we were decoding a rough day at school, and I finally told him a bit about how I see him as a firefly, or perhaps, a lightning bug. And the other kids at school might just see a plain old fly, but I know he shines, and someday other people at school will see it, too.

    Hopefully that will give him something to hold on to as he navigates the challenging-to-him social scene at school, that his sister the butterfly just waltzes through so easily (as viewed from the outside, and her little brother’s perspective… Inside her mind, it’s not as easy as it looks)

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    Journey2Freedom says

    This brought me to tears. I am the mother of a butterfly and a firefly and it is a struggle because I know that my beautiful firefly often struggles to be seen and heard. She is the one who notices the lonely, the hurting, the sad and has a unique gift of healing, humor, and friendship. It is beautiful to behold for those who take the time to notice. And I know that in this competitive results driven culture she won’t be rewarded by traditional structures for this beautiful gift. I understand this, because I too am a firefly and have often struggled to be seen and heard. Thank you so much for sharing this and giving me hope that someone notices and understands those who shine from within.

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      Thank you for sharing. I love your firefly. I love her because she is a Noticer. I call my firefly a Noticer and this is what I wrote about her: “As I watched my daughter beam with the glow of acceptance, I realized her approach to life had the power to change the world.

      You see, we are all just waiting for someone to notice—notice our pain, notice our scars, notice our fear, notice our joy, notice our triumphs, notice our courage.

      And the one who notices is a rare and beautiful gift.

      Thank you, Noticers of the world. We need you.

      Let us all be Noticers today.”

      You can read the whole entry here.

      Bless you both. I am so glad you are both in the world. Love, Rachel


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