Clean Cooktops – OR – Managing Situations Without Creating Crises

After a leisurely dinner Saturday night, I carried our plates back to the kitchen to discover a small tragedy on the top of our glass cook top stove. In all its dying splendor lay a melted plastic bread sack that had been inadvertently placed on top of a still-hot burner. Printed side down. The stove is less than a year old; the bag looked to be about a hundred years old in its shriveled, melted state. Not a happy combination for a mother who takes great pride in the spit-polished appearance of her new stove. The rest of the house may be a mess, but this is one thing I am meticulous about.
I froze momentarily as my heart dropped to my stomach. This freeze was nearly instantly replaced with a sense of urgent panic to do something to get that plastic bag off the stove while it was still warm. Then, better sense grabbed hold of me. I took a deep breath, remembering how easily glass cook tops can be scratched, and headed straight for my dear friend Google. After typing in a question about removing melted plastic bags from glass cook tops and quickly looking over half a dozen links to get a general consensus as to the best method (which I will share with you at the end of this post), then I was ready to act.
I wish I’d taken a “before” picture of that melted bag (I wasn’t imagining at that point that I’d be writing this out). Trust me when I say that it was impressive! It extended beyond the edges of the largest burner. Now, thankfully, the cook top looks brand new again.

Look Ma! No plastic!

There is a lesson in all of this. Panic doesn’t help.
If I had given in to my gut-reaction, I would have immediately grabbed up our razor window scraper and scratched off that plastic with gusto, leaving behind permanent scratches looking like pine needles after a windstorm. I would have been a sad, sad woman every time I looked at the stove top. Instead, a deep breath and a little research lead me to a safe and effective solution…and gave me knowledge that helps me relax when if we ever have such a mishap again.
Deep breaths and researching our options apply to managing our children’s situations as well. Panic doesn’t help here either. In fact, in a critical health or educational issue, it can be damaging.
Of course, there are times to act quickly. Sometimes we need to get our child to the emergency room right now. A flaming pan on the stove top would need to be addressed right now.

Not every situation is a crisis either, and it is critical to learn the difference. The melted bag on the stove top was not a crisis; there was enough time (even before the burner cooled) to get advice on how to correct the problem without causing more damage.
When we overreact to situations without taking a breath or getting the facts, we can set our kids up for complications that might have been avoided.
My daughter has suffered from intractable seizures for nearly twelve years. Of course they a bad thing and we want them stopped. But her variety does not compromise breathing or cause immediate brain damage. They are critical, but they do not pose a crisis.
When she first began having seizures, we panicked. We wanted them stopped right now. We raced her to the Emergency Room (endangering ourselves and every other driver along the way) where she was given unfamiliar medications that caused dangerous reactions. She’s a unique case; I’m not suggesting this is how anyone else’s child will react. But in our panicked state, we had trouble sorting out what was going on with her seizures and how the rescue drugs were actually feeding into her problem.
It took standing back, breathing, and collecting information over time (in this case, data on how the rescue drugs actually triggered and prolonged her seizures) to understand the Big Seizure Picture. Our panicked, knee-jerk reactions were creating an avoidable crisis; we needed a calmer approach to managing her seizures. Since that time, we have learned to step back and assess the situation before we intervene. This method of managing her seizures—and other health issues—has prevented some dangerous situations for her.
The same principles apply to situations at school that go awry. About the only crisis at school requiring immediate action is removing children from a burning building. After that, other situations most always allow time for breathing, for getting facts about what is happening, for researching the appropriate way to handle the problem. Pam and Peter Wright, special education advocates, have written an entire book on this very issue, From Emotions to Advocacy. Having taught special ed myself, as well as being the parent of a child receiving services, I can tell you that this deep-breath approach benefits everyone…parents, school teams, and especially the child. Knee-jerk reactions seldom solve problems. Instead, they make enemies (your child is the one who loses most then), they confuse the real issue at hand, they make you look reactionary and unreasonable (and a parent who maintains credibility will be taken far more seriously than one who is perceived as reactionary and unreasonable).
Is it easy to sort out the crises from critical situations? Of course not. That adrenalin rush makes us want to act right now. But there is usually at least time enough to inhale deeply and figure out which you are facing. I have not once regretted taking that deep breath; many times I have regretted not breathing deeply and acting without thinking instead. It’s a learning process. The melted bag gave me good feedback that I’m s-l-o-w-l-y coming along. Much as I don’t want the practice, it does help.
* * * * * * * * * * *
And now, as promised:
How to remove melted plastic bags from a glass cook top (summary of a number of great websites!)…
1. Remove the unmelted plastic from the cook top and allow the glass to cool.
2. Peel away any large chunks that you can.
3. Spray the cooled melted plastic with WD-40 and allow to sit 10-15 minutes.
4. VERY CAREFULLY scrape up the dissolved plastic with a utility knife or razor scraper. BE CAREFUL not to scratch the glass. Wipe off with a paper towel.
5. In the likelihood there is some residue left, wipe the leftover plastic and/or ink with acetone nail polish remover on a cotton ball to remove it.
6. Use a green scrubber pad and dish soap to scrub any residual. I used trusty old Cerama Bryte first, then just dish soap on a wet cloth. Voila!
7. Remind your dear ones to throw plastic bags into the trash or recycling next time, please.
May you never need these instructions...but they are a lifesaver if you do!

Acting quickly does not equal panic. We can perform swift actions without allowing our senses to take leave. Panic robs us of the ability to think clearly; we need a clear head in an emergency.


Anonymous said...

you are such a smart lady ;0)
Donna Genzlinger (not really anonymous-just don't know what all those other profile things are!)

Rose-Marie said...

Aw, shucks, Donna! You're a doll. I can't take credit for being smart, though...just learning from the bumps as I go along, kind of like we all do.

Michelle said...

Breathing is so underrated! Good for you for remembering to do it. And thanks for taking the time to remind the rest of us, too.