Okay children, gather ’round. Do you want to know the key to your mother’s heart?
When I was a lass, I was in love with Oliver. Like I wanted to have his rickets-laden babies. Later it was Gavroche in Les Misérables who split my heart wide open. Even Tiny Tim has enough urchin to ring my bell.
I’m a sucker for a coal-smudged face and short pants.
Maybe I wouldn’t find you, my own children, as exhaustive and annoying if you were grubby, pick-pocketing, scrappy mates who burst into song at any given moment?
Maybe if you contributed a little bit more with lumps of coal found in the alley or scraps of bread from the garbage, I would find you a wee bit more endearing?
This is how you transform yourself into a child that I want to eat up like Christmas pudding:
1. Speak in a British accent. You’ve watched enough Master Chef to emulate Gordon’s accent. At dinner you put on your best Ramsey, “Seasoning—spot on! Plating—sloppy!” If you could turn that into, “Please ma’am, may I have another?” I would be eating out of your scrawny little hand.
2. Stop bathing. It would only take two days—three tops—to acquire a fine layer of dust. Add some tears because there’s not enough porridge, and you’ll have that streaky-faced look that goes straight through my heart.
3. Acquire a wardrobe of an 80-year-old man. Tweed, tweed, and more tweed please. Elbow and knee patches? Maybe a vest? But of course. Scuff ’em up real good. Everything rumpled, filthy, and infested—OMG my heart is melting.
4. Sport a flat cap. Any street urchin worthy of the title knows a flat cap is key to making the ladies swoon. Add some whistling… I’d do anything for you dear, anything, for you mean everything to me, and I’m a puddle.
5. Pilfer food off other people. Try hanging at the neighbors’ during dinner and cleaning their plates. Learn to avoid the cashier in the school lunch line. Slip your hand into Jimmy’s backpack on the bus. God gave you pockets, now learn how to use them.
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6. Sing for your supper. Carrying a tune is key. Whistling will do in a pinch, but nothing is street urchin like a group song number. “Food Glorious Food.” “Do You Hear The People Sing?” You don’t have to dance, that’s overkill. A couple of verses will do.
7. Run in packs, hitch rides. Figure out your own transportation needs. Traveling in large swarms is good. There is safety in numbers. If you could hop on the back of a rich man’s buggy to get to soccer practice, I’ll be yours for life.
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
If it’s an xBox you desire
Then you should get off your butt,
Start making your mama happy,
Live your life like a scraggly mutt!
Vive la France!
This original piece by Kaly Sulivan was written exclusively for In the Powder Room, a division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Featured image © Oliver! (1968), Romulus Films.