Fill-in Pretenders and Fake Applause

In some ways, it’s been a year of pretend! There’s been the more consequential pretending, such as pretending people are immune from contracting the Coronavirus, pretending it’s a conspiracy, and pretending it’s not real. There’s the passive pretending, such as believing that life is going to go on like normal, we can still line up outside Best Buy with a mass of other pretenders hoping to get a PlayStation 5 (I’ll still confused by PlayStation 1 and The Sims!), and pretending that no one has been affected by COVID-19 except people in far away places that don’t concern us.

A lot of pretending!

Some of the pretending, however, has been more on the humorous end of the meter. For instance, when Major League Baseball began their shortened-season in late July, there was the ingenious creation of fake fans- cardboard cutouts sitting in the seats of the stadium- and fake applause from the pretend crowd. What a hoot to see the image of Ricky Henderson sitting in the seats behind home plate at an Oakland A’s game, still wearing his A’s uniform!

The NBA bubble caught on to it with virtual fans, whose images could be seen watching the game. My cynical nature wondered how over-priced one of those virtual seats ran a person, and whether it was pretend money they used to buy that make-believe seat?

In the meantime, I was called into the middle school I have coached at for the last actual 20 years, and, more recently, substitute taught at for the past five years, to see if I would teach a 7th grade language arts class at the beginning of the year. There was an immediate need and the principal was hoping I could help them out for the first month. The first month turned into the first quarter, and then the second quarter, and now I’ll be there for the year. In some ways, I’m like a pretend teacher teaching a real class! It’s almost like a Hallmark Christmas movie plot-line…Mr. Wolfe teaching at a school whose mascot is a Timberwolf and giving secret gifts to all the students, who don’t realize he’s Santa Claus until the last scene of the movie when he suddenly has a full white beard and a wife whose full name happens to be Christmas Carol Wolfe! Wow! That idea took just as many weird turns as some of the actual stories the 7th grade students were assigned to write!

And then our school went to remote learning two weeks before the Thanksgiving break. Suddenly, all of my students were looking at me from the other side of a computer screen, wondering if this was really happening. A young lady in my first class each day, who sat at the desk next to my desk, was no longer actually in my room. I missed her giggle and chatter, told her I was going to make a cardboard cutout of her and sit it at her desk, but I didn’t want to buy a new refrigerator just to make that happen.

So I found a Cabbage Patch Doll in our basement, leftover from our daughters’ growing-up days and brought her to school. Redianca, as I called her because of her red hair, was propped up at that desk beside mine as my first pretend student. I showed each of my classes, turning my laptop so they could greet the new kid, and causing giggles, some head-shaking, running commentary, and smiles.

And then I thought “Why not add a new pretend student each day?”, so I did! Our basement contained a whole student body of pretenders, teddy bears, “Tobo” the giant teddy bear that had been our daughter’s since she was 3 (and now is 39), the Three Christmas Bears, Goldilocks the scary doll, Woof the Wolfe Dog, Piggie, Pumpkinhead, Kitty the Koala, and on and on. Each day I introduced the new student to their classmates. The language arts textbooks have been put to good use as seats, props, and terraces as a way to bring, ironic as it sounds, some crazy normalcy to this unreal school year.

On the last day before Christmas break, my virtual students were wondering if their “replacements” would still be there when they are scheduled to return in mid-January? I replied that I would clear them out for the real kids to have their seats back. The real kids replied, “No, Mr. Wolfe! Keep them there! You can sit them on the counters by the windows!”

So, that’s what I’ll do! It will be a return, in some ways, to the fake fans filling the seats of a sports stadium; pretend fans watching a pretend teacher instructing real students! I still can’t figure out, however, how to make the fake applause happen!

Explore posts in the same categories: children, Christmas, coaching, Humor, Parenting, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

4 Comments on “Fill-in Pretenders and Fake Applause”

  1. Gibberish Says:

    Do share a picture of your real and fake students in a real classroom 😀

  2. Gibberish Says:

    I love this lot of fake students.. adorable bunch 🥰🥰

  3. mbmankin Says:

    What a great way to connect with your real students! You’re a great teacher!


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