Julie Mudrick, a mother of five in suburban Virginia, isn’t afraid to be herself – or Captain Hook, Nacho Libre or even Donald Trump.
Every school day in October, she dresses up in a different costume, including superheroes and presidential candidates, to greet her three elementary school kids as they get off the school bus.
Why in the world would she do that? Well, it started as an object lesson about being kind to one’s self.
In 2013, her second-oldest son was in third grade and just wasn’t having much fun.
“He was very serious,” his mother told InsideEdition.com Tuesday. “He was very concerned about what others thought about him. He was very hard on himself.”
She pondered how best to get her boy to lighten up a little and believe in himself.
So Mudrick came up with the idea of dressing in wacky costumes and greeting him and his siblings as they got off the bus.
“The first time I showed up I had those novelty glasses on with a fake nose and a moustache. They kind of rolled their eyes at me. But there was never that embarrassing moment for them,” she said.
So she decided to do it every day after her kids marched off to school.
She set a few rules – she wouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes getting into costume and she would put together her outfits from items she had around the house.
So to become a toy soldier from The Nutcracker, she covered an oatmeal carton with a neck warmer to make a hat, put sponges on a red jacket to form epaulets and pulled on her pair of white jeans.
“The fact that I put make-up on, or dress up like a man, I think it helps them realize ‘That’s my mom. Look how confident she is.’ I think it helps them internalize it.”
Her serious son is no longer so serious, she said. “He still likes to be good at things, but when he fails at something, he can pick himself up a lot faster than he used to,” his mom says.
“I wanted him to be confident and joyful,” she said. “I wanted him to see the good.”
Her 13-year-old daughter, Isabella, wanted to be part of the show, so now Mudrick makes costumes for them both.
Isabella is Hillary Clinton to her Trump, a ballerina to her toy soldier, and Princess Leia to her Darth Vader.
“My daughter dresses up and she just owns it,” Mudrick says. “She’s no afraid of what other people think. Maybe people will make fun of her, but she doesn’t care.”
But for now, no one appears to be making fun of them. The costumed duo is a big hit in the neighborhood.
“My kids have no idea what I’m going to be. They look forward to it so much. There’s kids just pressed up against the glass,” she says, laughing.
“Whoever sees me first just yells it to the others,” she says. And then the bus goes berserk.
What she does is not just for her own kids, she says, but for the other children on the bus as well.
“Even if they have a bad day at school, or they’re headed home to something that’s not so good, at least they had one bright spot in their day,” she said.