From a young age, Bradley was a rebellious boy. He felt that the whole world was against him, especially his parents.
At age four, Bradley had already begun showing signs of aggression when things did not go his way. On one occasion, while in the care of his grandmother, Bradley had grabbed the corn broom and started chasing his grandmother around the house with it. This was all brought about when she told him that he was not allowed to have a chocolate bar before he ate his dinner.
At the age of six, he removed a butcher’s knife from the drawer in the kitchen and sliced holes into the screen door because he was told that he was grounded for not cleaning up his room.
By the time he was ten, Bradley had become obsessed with fire and fireworks. His parents had received numerous calls from Bradley’s school informing them of the destruction that their son had been causing on school property. He set off fireworks in the girl’s restroom, set fire to a tree that stood in the courtyard, set garbage cans ablaze, and the list went on. His parents had enough and decided to take him to talk to a psychologist.
Dr. Walter Fitzsimmons had a degree in Child Psychology and came highly recommended by the school counselor. His office was bright and cheerful as Bradley and his parents entered for the first time. He seemed undisturbed by Bradley’s demeanor and began asking him simple questions to get a better understanding of how his mind worked.
The questioning went on for thirty minutes, and by the time they were finished, Dr. Fitzsimmons had decided that it would be in Bradley’s best interest if they were to have him take a prescription for Ritalin to control his mood swings.
Before leaving, Bradley’s mom complimented the doctor on his decorating. He replied that he would eventually like to paint the walls a light yellow instead because it is more calming. A noise to their left made the doctor and Bradley’s parents turn. Bradley was standing with his face toward the wall.
“What are you doing?” the doctor demanded, losing his cool for the first time during their visit.
“I’m painting your walls yellow for you, doc!” Bradley replied sarcastically as a trail of urine trickled down the wall and onto the floor.
The doctor insisted that they leave his office immediately. That was his last visit to Dr. Fitzsimmons.
When Bradley reached his teenage years, things continued to worsen. He began hanging out with other teens, and some adults who shared similar interests. Many times, Bradley would be returned home to his parents by the police. His juvenile record grew longer every day.
As he reached adulthood, Bradley’s parents had enough and told him that he needed to get himself a job and pay rent or else he would have to leave. Brad chose the latter and moved out that same day, bunking in with a few of his cohorts. That was the last time that he and his parents had spoken for years to come.
In time, things began to fall apart in the living arrangements that Bradley now had. Food was scarce and one-by-one his roommates started disappearing. One was in jail more than he was out. Another died of a drug overdose. That left Bradley and his new girlfriend, Daisy; an eighteen-year-old blond beauty that was overcome by Bradley. He would have left too, but Daisy had sprung the news on him that he was going to be a daddy.
Now, with Bradley at the age of twenty, he and Daisy were new parents and they knew that they could not survive with a child living the way they currently were, so Bradley decided to find a job for the first time in his life.
He applied to dozens of job postings with no call for employment. Nobody wanted to hire a twenty-year-old with no work experience and a criminal record. He began to lose hope.
As he strolled down Main Street on his way back to the apartment, he stumbled over the legs of a homeless man that was asleep in a doorway. He hurdled into the window of a building and nearly broke through the glass. As he looked up to assess any damage that he might have caused and saw a sign in the window. It read, “JOB OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY.” He took that as fate and went inside.
He was asked to take a seat until one of the career counselors was available. The woman who he spoke with was a pleasant brunette named, Nadine. She asked him several questions and asked him to answer everything with complete honesty, which he did. Before Bradley left the office, he had been set up with an appointment for a job interview in town as a general laborer with a roofing company.
The manager of the company went through a list of dos and do nots that were involved with the job. He explained that if he got the job, he would be working with a crew that is tarring roofs. He would be given a pair of coveralls to wear, but he would need to invest in a pair of steel-toed boots. The pay that was offered would be more than enough to pay the rent and for the baby supplies, so Bradley accepted the responsibility and went home to tell Daisy the good news.
On Bradley’s first day on the job, he was not expecting to be working as hard as he was. The intense heat from the tar as well as the heat from the sun as it reflected off the hot tar made him light-headed. One of his co-workers saw Bradley’s condition and offered him some cold water then told him to take a break. The water tasted better than anything that had ever passed his lips before.
Over time, he acclimated to his new environment and his work level improved. Before long, he was working up to speed with the rest of the crew. His first paycheck was more money than he had ever seen at one time in his life. He was asked to set up a bank account for direct deposit of his checks, and before long, Bradley and Daisy started to see some savings.
Years had passed and Bradley had climbed his way up the ladder and was now the site foreman. Things were going very well for him. Daisy, with their third child now on the way, was doing her best to survive in the role of a full-time mom. Their firstborn, a boy named Joshua, was now five and a handful. They also had an angel of a girl named, Sheridan who just turned three. The bun in the oven was expected to be a girl as well and would soon be arriving.
Bradley would come home at night and as soon as he walked in the door, Daisy would fill him in on all the terrible things that Joshua had been doing that day. He had cut one of the pigtails off Sheridan’s beautiful blond hair and fed the goldfish to their cat, Mr. Whiskers. She was at her wit’s end.
Bradley soon realized that Joshua had inherited some of his bad traits and decided to call for help before it got out of hand.
They first tried speaking with a psychologist, but all the doctor wanted to do was medicate Joshua. Bradley searched for an alternative. After several hours pondering the situation, he knew what had to be done.
It was nearly Christmas. Bradley and Daisy were preparing a large meal to feed their hungry family, but they were not the only ones attending. Bradley had made a long-overdue call to his parents and invited them to Christmas dinner. He coaxed them into coming by telling them about their grandchildren.
When his parents arrived, they were surprised to see Bradley living in a beautiful ranch-style home with a minivan in the driveway. The property was well kept, and they were living in a decent neighborhood.
They rang the doorbell and Bradley opened the door. He had grown up so much since he left home all those years ago. He was clean-cut and dressed in a red rayon button-up shirt and black casual pants.
“Mom, Dad, I’m so happy you could make it,” he expressed with sincerity. “I would like to introduce you to my family. This is my wife, Daisy, and the bundle of joy that should be with us in another month is yet to be named. Beside Daisy, is our daughter, your granddaughter, Sheridan, and last, but not least, is your grandson, Joshua.”
“How old are you, Joshua?” Bradley’s mother asked. Instead of replying, Joshua turned and ran down the hall and into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.
“Rambunctious little guy, isn’t he? He reminds me of someone else I know,” his mother stated, glancing in Bradley’s direction.
“Yes, he certainly is,” Bradley replied. “That is one of the things I was hoping we could discuss if you don’t mind. We have our hands full with Joshua. Daisy is with him all day and I deal with him when I get home so she can have a break. I wanted to ask, how did you two manage to get through all that I put you through?”
“Bradley, firstly, I want to tell you how proud of you I am, how proud we both are that you had changed your life around and settled down. To be honest, I did not think it was possible. I assumed that one day I would either have a police officer showing up at the door telling us that you were in prison or dead. I worried about you every day since you moved out.
Secondly, I need to say that you are already on the right track. You are giving Joshua a good environment to grow up in. He sees that you love each other and sees that you are working hard to provide for them, even if he does not show appreciation. You need to keep showing him love every day, but you also need to show him responsibility. Help him realize that to obtain the things that he wants, he needs to work for them. He is old enough now to start cleaning his room and doing other minor chores. As he gets older, these chores will become routine and you can give him more difficult responsibilities. In return, you can give him an allowance, but put it into a bank account for him, then each month, show him how much money he has saved. This will give him the incentive to work harder.”
“Thank you, mom, and thank you dad for working so hard to give me the life that you did. I know that I had never shown any appreciation to you, but I was stubborn back then. I learned a lot after I had to go out and find work for the first time. I realized then what you went through. I don’t think I have told you this since I was a child, but I love you both.”
Bradley and his parents embraced and held each other tightly for several minutes. Bradley’s mom then motioned for Daisy and Sheridan to join them. Joshua peeked his head out through the bedroom door, curious about what was happening. He saw everyone hugging and laughing and it made him envious. Bradley saw him and called him over. Joshua hesitated at first, then joined into the group hug.
They spent the rest of the evening enjoying a delicious meal, opening gifts, and talking about everything that had been missed during the void in their lives. Joshua was especially entertained by the stories of his father’s antics as a child. The children played with the toys that their grandparents had bought them, and everyone had the first of many wonderful and memorable moments together.