MANCHESTER, N.H. — A New Hampshire mom who has been crashing her daughters' school Zoom meetings in costume is providing laughs to kids and teachers, as well as complete strangers on social media.
Jen Kulesza, the Zoom-bombing mom from Manchester, has donned more than 50 costumes, changing in and out of character as she makes appearances in her daughters' meetings a few times a day.
"I try to make it a little interesting," said Kulesza. "But I try not to distract too much from the class. I'll just kind of walk by, sweep the floor, move some stuff in the background, paint a wall in the background."
A neighbor had given the costumes to Kulesza, knowing the family loves to dress up in elaborate ensembles each Halloween. But Kulesza decided to put them to use right away.
In a video she shared on social media, Kulesza, wearing a sumo wrestler suit, tackles 11-year-old Isabella as she sits at the table on her laptop, the two giggling as they tumble to the floor.
On another day, Kulesza, pops up in a lion costume behind Isabella, whose classmates roar with laughter.
"What the heck is that, Isabella? What is behind you?" a friend asks on Zoom.
"That's my mom," Isabella explains.
While the Zoom bombs were initially a little embarrassing, Isabella and her nine-year-old sister Lillian welcome a reason to laugh in the midst of their remote learning.
"All of a sudden, I'm like, 'What's happening?'" Isabella said of the first time her mom snuck up on her. "And I look at my screen, and I see a minion passing by me. I'm like, 'What?' I was very confused."
The girls have now come to expect their mom will make an appearance or two, but just when and what her character will be keep them on their toes.
"They sometimes try not to laugh," Lillian said of her classmates muffling their laughter during class.
It is important for the Kuleszas to remember to be silly at a time that can be very scary. Isabella has asthma, compromised lungs, a hole in her esophagus, a connective tissue disorder and an immune deficiency disease. She and her parents know coronavirus could take a toll on her body if she were to contract it.
"As soon as we knew that Covid was coming around, we were terrified," Kulesza said. "We face every day, nervous about the common cold, because that could send her to the hospital with pneumonia, and it does."
Isabella makes weekly trips to Boston Children's Hospital for treatments and appointments. It is a lot for a little girl - and her family - to have to deal with.
"I needed to make us laugh, because at that point, if we weren't laughing, we were just crying," Kulesza said.
The Zoom bombs have become so popular, complete strangers have donated costumes. One person drove nearly an hour to drop some off on the porch.
What started as a little fun in the Kulesza family is bringing the community together at a time when many feel far apart.
“I think everyone’s really enjoying it,” Kulesza said. “It’s not just making my kids laugh. It’s bringing a lot of laughter to a lot of other people, too, which is important at this time, because we need to bond together and laugh together.”
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