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A mum who pranked her five-year old son by convincing him his Grinch toy had eaten the Elf on the Shelf - resulting in the youngster crying for half an hour - has been met with a mixed reaction online.
Tanya Lee, 30, admitted some saw her as 'a bad parent', but has responded to the backlash by saying if she thinks her son Oscar 'can cope' with a prank, she'll do it.
Oscar now won't trust the Grinch toy and keeps it away from the Elf on the Shelf in the family's home in King's Lynn, Norfolk.
A hilarious photo shows bones left from a roast chicken in the formation of a skeleton beside the smug-looking Grinch toy on the kitchen surface. The Grinch is holding cutlery as if it has devoured the elf.
Tanya, who is a carer, said: "We had had roast chicken on Sunday and the bones left a perfect elf-shaped skeleton so I thought I'd play this joke on Oscar. I went for it, and left the skeleton out as if the Grinch ate Elf on the Shelf.
"But my little boy cried and cried. He cried for half an hour. His first words afterwards were 'the Grinch shouldn't have eaten her. The Grinch is not allowed to eat her.' I had to open the cupboard and show him that the elf was actually hiding and that it was just a silly little joke.
"He was traumatised but I found it hilarious. He was relieved when he found out but he still will not look at the Grinch toy at all. Every time I put the elf near the Grinch now, he moves it away.
"He knows he is not allowed to touch the elf but he moves the Grinch as he thinks the Grinch is going to eat the elf again."
Although mum-of-one Tanya 'laughed so much' at the gag, she has faced a backlash online after sharing the snap. Facebook users, many of them strangers, condemned Tanya's parenting.
One posted: "That's a bit cruel. You shouldn't do that," while another shared: "I'm not surprised he was traumatised. It's not a nice joke to play for a child."
But Tanya, a single mum, who has used Elf on the Shelf every year since 2017, said: "It was funny. I laughed so much at it. I didn't think he'd react like that but it's still funny. I know I probably sound like a bad parent but it was too funny.
"He's my child at the end of the day and if I think he can cope with it, then I'll do it. He can cope with it. I gave birth to my child so I know my child. He was fine with it. He cried for a bit but he was fine after that.
"People are good at being keyboard warriors. I don't mind a few negative comments though. I half expected these negative comments online. There have been some positive ones actually though. Some people just loved the picture."
Elf on the Shelf has become somewhat of a tradition every Christmas for the past 10 years or so. The elf in the home acts as a special scout sent from the North Pole to encourage kids to behave themselves.
The idea is that Santa's little helper watches the children by day, and each night, it returns to the North Pole to report on whether they were naughty or nice.
Tanya continued: "We do Elf on the Shelf every year and, each year try to make it more successful. My little five-year-old boy, Oscar, loves Christmas and wants the elf to come back every year and, after the year we have had, he wanted to bring him back early.
"I was getting a bit bored this year though with just moving him around from different rooms so I put him beside the Grinch this year.
"The elf and the Grinch always have issues with each other, obviously, as the Grinch hates Christmas so Oscar and I like to joke about that. It was just a bit of fun."
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