Giggles, Towels, and Bees: A Lesson

by Christy Gualtieri

I hate bees.

I understand their purpose. I have respect for what they contribute to nature and the process of fertilizing our plants and flowers, but I still hate them. I am not allergic to them, but my fear of bees runs so deep in my veins that the only thought that runs through my head when I see one is to run away. Now.

Bumble Bee

My son and I were playing in the backyard recently when a nearby bumblebee, clearly threatened, started buzzing wildly around us. I lost total control of the situation and freaked out, shrieking, and went into a blind panic. The bee circled around me, its buzz getting louder and louder.

“Trust me, bee,” I wanted to yell. “I was nowhere near your flowers. I respect your flowers! Get away from me!”

And as I was shrieking and dodging the bee, my legs going one way and my body another, my almost-two-year old son just stood there, completely unafraid, laughing at me. Full-on body laughs.  He even got the hiccups.

I grabbed him by the armpits and held him close, and ran out of sight of the bee, my little one laughing all the way.

He had no idea why I was so afraid. The bee was charging the both of us, but he had no idea why the buzz of a bee would make me break out into a sweat and make my heart pound. What frightened me terribly had no affect on him. It made me happy for him, but I was still terrified.

Later on that evening, our family read books aloud before bed. My son can’t fully talk yet, maybe a few words here and there (“Go,” for one. “Oh,” for another); and as we read a story about an assortment of animals getting ready for bed in the galley of a cruise ship, he repeated one of the words, clear as day: “Towel!”

We stared at him, wide smiles on our faces. “Yeah! Towel!”

meMHUh4“Towel!” he exclaimed again, and then burst into giggles.

He said the word “towel” about fifty more times in the ten minutes that followed, but laughed the loudest after the ones he knew sounded most right to us.

But he wasn’t afraid. He wasn’t afraid to try a new thing, say a new word. I think about how afraid I am to try new things all the time, and was so happy to have a few moments in just the span of a few hours when my son taught me that sometimes in life, you just have to laugh at whatever scenario you’re in and plunge forward. Even if your pronunciation is off, even if you may get stung, the best – and most pure thing to do in the moment – is just to try.

I’m still scared of bees, and I probably will be just as frightened of them tomorrow and the day after that. But if I freak out again in front of my son, I’ll take a moment (after my pulse calms down) and maybe even try to laugh with him!

Best Wishes,

Christy GualtieriChristy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at, and tweets @agapeflower117.
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Viral Thoughts

When it’s just one of those days!
by Christy Gualtieri

human-brainNot too long ago, I caught the Stephen Soderbergh movie “Contagion” on cable. The film, which chronicles the infection of a deadly airborne virus, fatally affecting most of the world’s population and the mad rush to eradicate it, is a nail-biter, and one of those movies I just have to sit and watch no matter what I’m doing, no matter when it’s on.

Colds are contagious, so are coughs, viruses and the flu. But other things are contagious too: laughter, for example, or anger. Just as someone who spends time with a sick friend can come down with the sniffles the very next day, it’s just as easy for a person to be exposed to an attitude – whether good or bad – and find themselves coming down with a similar condition.

Happiness IsAChoice_by_RAEART[]I was visiting a friend the other day when we decided to stop at a nearby coffee shop, and I ordered a pastry that I wasn’t aware needed to be heated. Thinking that the barista forgot that part of my order, I politely asked for it. She rudely told me that there was a line for the oven, and her tone definitely told me that I was way “out of line” to ask for it. When I received it a moment later from another barista, she gave me an awful look, and I thanked her and walked back to my table, somewhat confused, but also pretty angry.

After I left, I found myself losing patience with other drivers on the road, and ill-tempered with everyone just as those baristas were with me. But as I drove, I remembered what it was like when I worked at a coffee shop just like that one, not that long ago. I remembered being overwhelmed after a week of busy mornings, of rushes and long lines. We’ve all been short on tempers – customers and workers alike. It’s normal and it’s human nature. But it’s also frightening to think about how easily we can pick up those feelings and carry them with us, allowing them to be passed on to others.

1924795_615723111830831_672400234_nIt doesn’t need to happen though, and the negativity can stop with us. After I got home and took a few good deep breaths, I reminded myself that my entire day didn’t need to be ruined – I could just calm down, and move on. It takes practice, of course, but it’s possible and necessary because it’s just as easy to feel emotionally lifted by someone you meet who is happy, joyful, and who radiates peace – and the more of those folks out there, the better!

Best Wishes,

Christy GualtieriChristy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at, and tweets @agapeflower117.
Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!

Making the Man:

Boosting self esteem and body image in boys
By Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC

Self esteem affects boys tooThe phrase “poor body image” is typically thought to be a term exclusive to women or adolescent girls. However, in recent years we have seen a growing number of adolescent boys and even adult men reporting poor body image. How can you help teenage boys develop a positive outlook with the way they feel about their physical appearance?

Talk about it. Don’t pretend as though he’s just “going through a phase.”

The effects of poor body image among boys tend to be internal and are usually associated with reduced confidence and low self-esteem. Poor body image is often much more difficult to identify in boys than in girls. Teenage boys’ issues are usually not physically apparent or outwardly excessive, although some may engage in extreme exercise and/or develop an eating disorder.

If you suspect a problem, ask questions. Then be patient and listen without judgment, criticism or using minimizing statements such as, “You just need to stop always comparing yourself to other people,” or worse “Be a man and suck it up.”

Indicators of a poor body image in adolescent boys are often subtle and may include:

  • Stressed Schoolboy with Head in HandsUnrealistic expectations for body type.
  • Excessively conforming to others expectations.
  • Having low energy.
  • Poor diet.
  • Becoming withdrawn or demonstrating a low mood for an extended period of time.

Model healthy behaviors. We’re all in this together.

Kids and teens gain knowledge from their surroundings. They observe much more than we give them credit. Consequently, make every attempt to model healthy behavior by eating a balanced diet and making those foods available to your kids. They may not want or like them, but you are setting the bar for how they forge their relationship with food and themselves. In addition to focusing on his nutrition and physical activity, pay attention to his exposure to media.

Making the ManJust like girls and women, the media exposes boys to continuous messages about an ideal body image. During the teenage years, this can be damaging because teen boys are undergoing dramatic body changes. They are vulnerable to holding themselves to unrealistic standards and often feel bad about who they are because of what they look like. Obviously there is no way to escape all media influence, but you can engage your children by teaching critical thinking skills without passing judgment on them or others.

Talk with your son’s doctor or a professional counselor.

If in doubt, or if you notice your son is growing more obsessed with body image, talk with your teen’s doctor about your concerns. He or she can discuss these issues with your son, such as what is the meaning of body image, proper nutrition and skin care, and what should his expectations be for himself.

In Good Health,