Rats

I dreamed I was a student or teacher, and had a bucket of rats that were tame and very good pets, as good or better than dogs. They had various patterns to their coats, more like hamsters.

I passed them around to the class, who petted them. I talked about the book “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.”

I remember we had several hamsters when I was growing up. When I was 13, for my science fair, my dad bought thirty white Sprague-Dawley rats for me to keep in the bathroom, to do an experiment about whether their learning would transfer from one maze to another, versus just the specific maze experience.

I was supposed to pet all the rats every day so that the experiment wasn’t confounded by anxiety towards humans.

I didn’t have much experience raising rodents. In their aquarium cage, they knocked over the water dish. Some of the rats got dehydrated, probably died, and were cannibalized by their fellows. I found bones and a tail.

I was horrified. Did I tell my Dad? I don’t remember. But I avoided them. My Dad got mad at me for not socializing them enough, but it was traumatizing.

I got a “Superior” ribbon for the science fair, but wasn’t selected for the State finals.

The dream probably springs from an insight I had yesterday, that I needed to be a super scientist to make up for my failings as a kid to my Dad. I’m a physician repeating my final year of residency, studying for my boards, which I’ve failed twice already. I’ve been pretty depressed for a few years now, and the dynamic with my Dad weighs on me, though he’s pretty supportive now.

The dream was probably some wish fulfillment, about how, since I didn’t socialize the rats, the experiment failed, so now I was making sure all the dream rats were socialized.

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