The Lone(ly) Rat

There was a study done of rat families. Seems like each family nest of rats creates its own unique set of sounds. All of the little rats get used to those little squeaks and scratches they are making, and feel comfort and unity from those sounds. If you take one baby rat out and leave it by itself for some time, and then return it to the nest, it fails to thrive. It doesn’t recognize the sounds of that nest and just doesn’t fit in. It doesn’t draw the same comfort and peacefulness as the other baby rats do from the familiarity of it all. And, I suppose, the squeak he makes, no matter how loud, is not understood by his nest mates.

I was told about this study by a friend that is a reading specialist for grade school children. He was lamenting how parents no longer spend time reading nursery rhymes to their children or speaking to them in rhyming words or singing childhood songs to them. This makes it hard for children to learn the various sounds of our language and how they mingle together to create words. Apparently these children find it hard to differentiate the sound of a sentence versus the sound of a single word. When their parents are not communicating verbally to them, there are no sounds created in the nest to which that child can return for understanding.

Does this thought translate into our society? How many families maintain family nests? We live far away from each other; we are not able to hear the daily squeaks and scratches that the others from our ‘nests’ are making. So we are left with the locals. But even with neighbors our homes are closed to keep the cold out in winter and closed to keep the cool in during the summer. There is no ‘nest’ making on the porch stoops of our suburban living. And running the neighborhood is certainly out.

Is that why I don’t feel connected to anyone except my husband? I don’t know what the sounds of my childhood family are anymore. I did not spend enough time with them to make that connection that will tie us together. And bring comfort when we do see each other. There is a common feeling though when we talk about what happened ‘back when…’ That must be the nest sound of childhood. I want to hear their poetry and their songs they are singing now. It is hard to return to a nest that has been rebuilt with new sounds that I wasn’t around to hear.

I keep moving through this life that is mine, alone with Brian. I like our sounds and curl up like our cats with them. I just wish someone else cared about them too.


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