“Steering into the skid” is a phrase that initially applied to driving but later has been used to apply to other situations and areas of life. In a driving sense, “steering into the skid” means that if a car is sliding sideways, the driver should turn the wheel in the direction that the car is sliding. This will cause the front and back end of the car to come back into alignment and bring the car under control again. In other situations of life, it has come to mean that if there is something happening that seems out of your control, it’s a way better option to embrace it and work to turn it into a positive than to constantly fight against it.
I find this to be true in so many teaching and parenting situations. There is, for example, the situation of my hairline. Ten years ago, I was blessed with a long flowing maneof thick dark curls. Some people said that I reminded them of a darker Heath Ledger…well, these days, it is much more probable that I will be likened to Jason Statham. To call my hairline receding would be a compliment and the bald patch in the back is moving forward to meet it. However, I have neither the money, nor the inclination to really do anything to prevent it. I’ve just kind of decided to steer into the skid on it. Here’s an example of how. It was the first week of my job teaching here in Cleveland. Part of what I do is Title One Reading Intervention. So I was working with one kindergarten student learning his letters and letter sounds. In the middle of the lesson, the boy just pauses and says, “Listen Mr. Steidl, I didn’t really wanna say anything but I just gotta. I would go back to whatever barber did your lineup and I would fire him. Cuz he messed you up bad brah.”
So at this point, I have a choice. I can choose to be offended and get mad at the kid. Or I can choose to laugh at the beauty, simplicity, and honesty that is a child’s mind and steer into the skid. So I put my head down so he could see the top of my head and said, “No Dominique, I had him do that on purpose. Look at my hairline. It’s the shape of the letter M. I knew we would be learning M today so I had him do me up like.” He kind of cocked his head to the side wondering if I was serious or not. Then he smiled really big and started nodded emphatically. “Oh yeah! I see it! It’s an M like the sign at McDonald’s!”…skid corrected and back on track.
Another instance of this happened about three years ago after my wife and I had our first child. Things got really busy and I stress ate a lot and didn’t run very much. So I gained about fifteen pounds that summer. When I got back to school, the students noticed it right away. I was working in our fourth grade class with a group of our ELL students. (English Language Learners). The class was working on writing opinion essays and being able to given reasons to support their opinion. While the students were working on forming their opinions, I overheard a group of students talking about me. They were debating about whether or not I was actually fat or I just looked fat now. (I’m still not sure what the exact difference is).
Again, I have a choice. Again, I chose to steer into the skid. I had them use their debate as the topic for their opinion essay. They had to form and defend their opinion on whether I was fat or just looked fat and defend it using three different reasons. They thought it was absolutely hilarious and were probably the most engaged in the writing assignment that I saw all year…skid corrected and back on track.
So both of those stories are simply goofy anecdotes dealing with how seriously or not seriously I take myself, but the overall concept remains true. With many things, it is easier and more productive to embrace things we cannot change and spin positives out of it than it is to fight it. In parenting, Shannon and I have used this outlook many times. Most recently, we got our sons a drumset for Christmas. They bang on everything anyways and as far as positive creative energy outlets, there are many worse things they could be doing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I’ve learned anything so far in life, it’s to not take myself too seriously and to try to find positives in situations I can’t change. So keep steering into the skid everyone.