A mum left her son “traumatised” after an Elf on the Shelf prank sensationally backfired.
Tanya Lee, 30, admitted she appeared to be “a bad parent” after she convinced her five-year-old son Oscar that his toy Grinch had eaten the elf in their kitchen.
The youngster sobbed for half an hour and now won’t trust the Grinch, keeping it away from the Elf on the Shelf at their home in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
A hilarious photo shows bones leftover from a roast chicken in the formation of a skeleton covered in ‘blood’ beside the Grinch toy, who 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.”
Another said: “I’m not surprised he was traumatised. It’s not a nice joke to play for a child.”
But single mum Tanya, 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 a tradition in many UK households every Christmas for the past 10 years or so, and was created to encourage good behaviour in the run-up to Christmas Day.
Parents tell their children that the elf will keep an eye on them and report back to Santa Claus each night to say who has been naughty or nice, returning in the morning to a new spot in the house.
Tanya addedL “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.”