Ah, memories. This summer I presented at the Reading, Writing, Math and More conference in Orlando and had an impromptu dinner with a group of workshop participants. We talked, laughed, and shared an appetizer plate that was a gift from the planning committee. When I arrived at the same hotel earlier this week for yet another conference, this gift was again waiting for me. I smiled, remembering how much fun I had sharing dinner that night. Little detailed recollections made me laugh, such as discovering the deceptively yummy-looking pieces of off-white fruit were soaked in some obscure hot pepper a truly unfortunate combination for these taste buds.

As much as I enjoyed the dinner with the participants, I recall that summer multiple-day trip as being difficult. I was flying from one event to the next, quite sleep deprived, and a bit grouchy. And yet…my brain pulled up the one positive emotional memory triggered by this small plate of food.

For me, the lesson is clear: small positive gestures can go a long way in erasing a whole host of negative ones. Brains are malleable and kids are resilient, but its critical for adults to have positive experiences and interactions with youth so they have good memories on which to focus.

If you were part of the group with whom I shared dinner on the evening of June 30th, thank you. I thought of you this week as I nibbled away at the tasty little smorgasbord. Except of course, for the sad little uneaten pieces of white fruit that were still on the plate when I headed back to the airport for my return home.