Cruising Center Street at Midnight

By Janet Walgren 
One night I was just entering a state of peaceful slumber when my son woke me stating that his older brother sneaked out of the house and was headed for Center Street with his friend. Center Street in Provo wasn’t a terrible place; Provo at it worst is actually pretty tame, and I wasn’t as worried about the street or the consequences of this daring adventure as I was about his behavior. We needed to talk.

Well, being Super Parent, I arose and put on my Super Hero costume. I can’t remember what I wore that night, but I had a stash of “I would rather be dead than to be seen with my mother when she is wearing that costume!” clothing. It was a tradition and my children had their own costumes as well. I rallied the troops and when we were appropriately attired, we got in to our car and headed for Center Street just in time to pick up Kris and his friend a few blocks from destination zero.


“Get in the car!” I commanded. They knew that they were busted and obediently climbed in the car. On queue, their siblings scooted to the center so the boys each had a window seat. “What do you think you are doing sneaking out of the house like that?” I inquired. The boys said that they wanted to go see all the older kids that parked on Center Street to hang out on Friday night.


“So… you want to hang out on Center Street do you? Well, tell you what; I think that is a great idea! Don’t mind if we join you, do you?” The boys groaned as their siblings laughed with delight. “Everybody roll down your windows, we’re almost there,” I announced.


With that, I slowed the car to a crawl and started saying loud how-do-you-dos to the kids sitting on the hoods of the cars parked on both sides of the street. “Nice baby you’ve got there!” to the teenage mother, and “I like your date!” to the guy on the curb petting his dog. “Cigarettes will kill you,” to the guy who was lighting up. “Aren’t you too young to drink?”… The kids caught the spirit of the occasion and started to pitch in.


When we came to the end of the six block stretch, I asked the boys how they liked cruising Center Street. They said it was real fun. “Tell you what, I’ll just let you guys get out here, and I’ll make my way back up to other end of the street, and I’ll park and wait for you their. I’d hate to ruin all of your fun.”


Now I would like to note here that although I do have exceptional kids, at 13 years of age, Kris wasn’t exactly a rocket scientist, but he was wise enough to know that walking back up the street that we just drove down while heckling the older kids wasn’t the most brilliant or safe idea. “No thanks mom,” he replied, “It would be more fun driving back up the other side with you.”


When we got home, everybody drank hot chocolate and ate cookies while we talked about the dangers of the night especially where their other parents lived. (I had nine children including step-children that summer and some lived in dangerous cities.) We talked about the buddy system and the importance of a parent, guardian, or friend knowing where you were, how long you were going to be there, when you were going to be home, and the importance of checking in if your plans altered.


How you fight the battles of life is just as important as choosing which battles you fight. When my children remember our night cruising Center Street, they laugh. I laugh too, because I know they are safe. To discipline is to teach and I love a happy student.


Ring, ring, “Hello”…

“Grandma where are you?”

“I’m driving up the coast highway getting close to Astoria.”

“Well it’s getting dark. Don’t you think it’s about time you were getting home?”


Warning! Be careful of the lessons you teach. They can come back to haunt you. Seriously, I don’t have an ankle bracelet, but I do have a cell phone…compliments of a concerned son-in-law. Thi…thank you. I appreciate your love and concern. It feels good to know I am loved.


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