WAILING kids, selfie-obsessed teens, naughty mums – Brian Stocks has seen it all during his nine years as City Plaza Santa.
But despite the tears, taunts and tantrums, Mr Stocks said the job provided many moments of unfettered joy.
“The special needs kids are the ones that get me. I’ve got a soft heart for each one of them,” Mr Stocks said.
“One year a young man came up who had just been kicked out of home and said all he wanted for Christmas was to go home.
“I shed a tear with that one.”
As the kids have morphed into teenagers, their requests have changed, too.
“I get a lot of teenagers now who want to take selfies with me,” Mr Stocks said.
And while some items on kids’ wishlists have stayed the same, there have been plenty of changes.
“Years ago, little boys often said they wanted Lamborghinis and Maseratis, now they just want iPhones and iPads,” he said.
“I get other strange requests, like unicorns and hovercraft. Some kids just ask for love and peace.”
Mr Stocks was drafted in as Santa’s helper in 2004 when City Plaza’s regular Santa took sick.
He was well-qualified for the job, having raised thousands of dollars for charity as Santa during annual poker runs across the region.
He’s had all sorts sit on his knee over the years, from five-day-old bubs to mums in their 30s.
And besides the ability to steer reindeer, Santas need a range of other qualities, he said.
“You need compassion and gentleness,” he said.
“You need to understand children and be able to get down to their level. It helps if you’re a bit of a big kid yourself.
“It’s hard to get out of the habit once Christmas is all over though.
“I still find myself waving to kids down the street and my wife often says ‘you’re not Santa any more’.”