Modern houses are built with a shower temperature control valve so that you can take a shower without fearing that someone will flush a toilet somewhere. But I once lived in an old house, and this is what it was like:
From the basement where I am loading the washer, I hear glass smashing. Five seconds later, I hear another smash, then another. I turn off the washer and run upstairs to the kitchen. Broken glass is covering the floor. Henry, wet and wearing only a towel, holds a beer bottle he'd picked from a case of empties. He aims it at the large mirror on the wall near the basement door where I stand and hurls it yelling, "I was in the shower!"
"What are you doing? Stop!"
Rachel is now in the hall by the kitchen, barefoot and crying.
Henry shouts, "I was washing my hair!"
Me to Rachel, "Don't come in. Wait." I run past Henry, who has grabbed another bottle, and pick up Rachel.
"My eyes were full of soap!" Another bottle flies. "I yelled down at you to turn off the washer, but you wouldn't."
Rachel's crying, "Daddy woke me up." I'm holding her tight out of the way.
"Clean this up," he yells. "I'm going out."
He rages up the stairs. I escape to the basement carrying Rachel and close the door to the laundry room. We sit on the floor, just hugging and crying for a long time. The house becomes quiet. Rachel says, "Mommy, let's get out of here."
I remember my therapist telling me to listen to my child. I think she meant my inner child; however, the four-year-old child curled in my lap is right. We have to leave.
I’m sure by now Henry has dressed and left, taking his growing anger and dysfunction out into the night with him. We have to leave...but the house is quiet. I figure I may as well finish the laundry first. I turn on the machine.
The next moment, Henry is hollering and banging on the basement door, "You're trying to drive me crazy. You want to make me crazy." The door's not locked but he punches a hole in it and rips it off the hinges anyway.
He's soaking wet, having decided to finish his shower at about the time I decide to finish the laundry.