When she said her name was James Bond, I knew that I had hooked into a situation that I needed to disconnect. I knew she probably shouldn't be hanging in the front hall of an elementary school as the children were making their way home and to their various after school programs. It took me a few moments to negotiate her toward the front doors and down the steps, on her way to have that oddly disjointed conversation with the next person with whom she made eye contact.
It took me until the next day to consider what might have been at stake. I've dealt with a great many adults who have come to our school seeking their children, answers, satisfaction. Some show up with clear minds and purpose. Others are clouded by anger, frustration or poor choices of chemicals. Most of them show up with the focused intent of their child's well being. They don't always stop and consider the well being of the kids around them or the adults who are there to try and help them.
That's why I stopped to see what I could do for James Bond. She was peeking into a Kindergarten room, and so I made the inference that she was looking for a child in that classroom or hoped to find her son or daughter in the after school program. "Can I help you?"
What followed was a bizarre stream of consciousness that fell from her lips as I listened for any sort of sense. The underlying thread seemed to be her interest in children. All children. She also expressed interest in my children. Apparently her children had gone or left or were taken away. It was hard to track because many of the words were mumbled or slurred. I listened as she continued to shake my hand and I began to consider that this might not be a mother or grandmother or aunt or friend of any of the boys and girls. "Can I help you find someone?"
This was a question she never heard. She kept on about her worries about the children. I decided that it would probably be best for our children if we moved the conversation out of the middle of the hallway. I wanted to help, but I felt my responsibility to the kids at my school. Gently, I moved with her, still holding hands. When we reached the doors, she seemed to grasp the direction we were heading and let go. "Good luck," I said as she walked out into the afternoon sun.
I watched her go. Then I turned around and looked at the children making their way to wherever it was they needed to go.