The hidden dangers of maple syrup


Not long ago, I noticed something dripping from the refrigerator door. I thought it was, as sometimes happens, some water leaking out because the little drain for condensation had been blocked. But this was brownish, thick and sticky. I opened the fridge to find what I like to call Syruptastrophe! A big bottle of syrup had been placed open and on it's side on a shelf of the refrigerator door hours earlier, only to drip it's way down the door, over all of the other stuff on the door and eventually, out of the fridge and onto the floor. It was syrup and it was a catastrophe. Now that I've had time to reflect upon it (and I'm completely, totally not sticky anymore -- when I was done cleaning it, my husband wondered if I'd done the job by rolling in the syrup) I realize it's par for the course.

The accidental syrup spiller was my daughter. Her mistake was almost overshadowed by the fact that she actually put the syrup back in the refrigerator. This is a two steps up one step back (sometimes it seems like the other way around) deal: your kids start to get the idea that you really mean it when you say "Clean up after yourself." But this then creates a much larger mess to clean up.

Until my kids were at this stage, I never knew the syrup container was so dangerous. Similarly, a jar of peanut butter with the lid placed on it but not screwed on is a booby trap worthy of that kid from Home Alone. Try to pick it up and it will fall and spill and worst of all splatter. Beware the orange juice with partially fastened top as well, for your adolescent will sweetly offer to get it out of the fridge and pour you a glass, but not before shaking it into an explosion of little sticky droplets.  I know that there was once some sort of wild dessert-making scene, and I can just picture two almost adult-sized hands gleefully squeezing the bottle as it was held aloft. How else could the chocolate syrup wind up on the ceiling?

Its not all the kids fault, of course. This too is a learning process. And parenting had been a steadily tidier task as they aged out of baby-food and diapers and toys with thousands of parts, so really I'm due some messes. And maybe it's a little bit of payback as well. Now that the kids get their own peanut butter, we often have the soak resistant peanut butter spoon lingering in the sink. My mom used to say that the way to clean it was not even to put it in the sink, but wipe away the peanut butter with a paper towel. It's been probably 35 years since she told me that, and I'm just now realizing she was trying to tell me to clean up my own darn peanut butter spoon! Sorry, mom!