Nicole Land thinking with Sanja Todorovic and Jajiba Chowdhury
We thought with the children with a provocation of flipping over the vehicles (so they were belly and tires up) to try to ‘get to know’ them differently, and to see what happens if we shake up the children and vehicle’s well-known pathways around the yard. Often, we have noticed, the children use the plastic vehicles on familiar pathways, running around a shelter in the yard. How might we notice how we communicate with/in movement if we intentionally try to disrupt our well-travelled pathways?
When we flipped over the shorter red vehicle, D and N and I noticed that we could see into the space around the wheels, and there was lots of dirt and web in the wheel wells. As we were looking into one of them, we noticed a spider crawling around. We wondered what the spider was doing – it seemed like it was hanging out, not moving a lot. N crouched right over the wheel well, watching the spider very carefully and trying to put his finger as close to it as he could. D started to spin the wheel and the spider started to move and skittered down the front of the vehicle. Then, D flipped the vehicle back over. After sitting on top of the vehicle, he leaned way over and wrapped his fingers around the edge of the wheel well, saying that there was a “spider under here”. I wondered out loud if the spider was still there, and what the spider might do if he tried to use the wheels. D thought that the spider was “scared away” and started scooting the red vehicle around, while still looking under the wheel. I wondered if there were spiders in the other wheels and D stopped driving and started stretching all around the vehicle, trying to see all angles. We noticed that hanging off the back was a knot of what seemed like older, or at least more thick, spider webs. I said that it looked like there was some spider web holding on to the back of the car and D started moving, looking back to see if it was still holding on. It was. The web kept “hanging on the back” as D kept mentioning, as he’d push off and slam on the breaks to see if it would fall off or stick with him.
This makes me think that one possible response for the question of what else the vehicles can do, or how else we can get to know the vehicles and their movements with the children, is that the vehicles are something that we share with spiders and more-than-human others in the quad. The vehicles aren’t just the children’s and their only role in the quad isn’t to facilitate children’s movement. They are also inhabited and moved with by spiders and leaves and dirt and probably lots of other critters. In that way, we might think that any movement with the vehicles is also moving with spiders and webs. I wonder how this shifts how we move with the vehicles. For D, noticing that there was a spider and spider webs in the wheels seemed to invite some attention to paying attention to the whole vehicle and noticing how the web held on to the car. I think this is really interesting, to think with the children about who else and what other lives and materials is part of their relations and movements with the vehicles. I’m thinking too of rain, and of putting the plastic vehicles in the shed when it is about to rain to protect them. Our movements with the vehicles are entangled with weather too. I’m thinking of snow also, and betting that snow also threads through how the children move with the vehicles. The vehicles are so much more complex than only being inert materials that children use to move; I think that we can start to notice them with the children as entangled with moving with many lives and elements of the playground place.