It was December 2006. I’d had enough. Another gruelling 60 hour week and finally Saturday had arrived. Well, it should have been a rest but when you’ve got kids there is no such thing as a rest!
I’ve got two lovely daughters, at the time one was 3 going on 13 (you know, THAT stage), the other 8 and 99% of the time fine. But then something seems to kick inside them, some sort of evil manifestation that turns a lovely 8 year old into a sulking vicious monster.
I actually can’t remember the argument, how it started or why. All I remember was being too tired to argue and for some reason I got my phone out and said “Right, I’m calling Santa”. The thought was to call Grandad and get him to be Santa. Again. But no…he wasn’t in. What do I do?
Suddenly it occurred to me I had the kids attention – open eyed attention. They were being quiet. I thought I’d try something and set about sending a text message to myself but wording it as I’d want Santa to word it.
The reply came back instantly as you’d expect but I pretended it took a minute and then showed the reply to my eldest daughter.
Wow. Instant behaviour change. I was gobsmacked. I suddenly realised what a cool idea this was, but mid December is a bit late to start a business based on Christmas so I had to bide my time until now.
Now because I’m a freelance web developer by professional this sort of thing is bread and butter but trying to fit it in around clients has been fun. Trying to develop and test it at home has been even more fun – hiding pictures of Santa from nosey kids is no easy task.
The system I have now developed is really smart. The big thing is that the message says From Santa rather than a number. That looks great and reinforces the Santa magic.
Secondly the service lets you send a message at a scheduled date and time, or you can use a version of my original idea and send a text, delay it by a minute or so and then have it sent back to you or to another phone (many kids seem to have mobiles from age 6 onwards)
Having my own test subject is great. She’s 9 now but still believes. Why – because last week she nearly packed in Ice Skating which she is doing really well at and would have been a shame. A message from Santa changed her mind and she’s back loving it again. In fact her best mate who didn’t believe in Santa asked my wife if Santa was real or not because she wasn’t sure now.
So far this year, just the mention of “What do you think Santa will say” is enough to stop moods in their tracks. Have I hit a winner idea? who knows, but the magic of Santa is alive and kicking in my house.