What Kids Say About Regrets
Sadie (9), Neighbor Girl (8), and Eva (10) all like to prank Wolf (17) together. Wolf loves the attention of the tomfoolery his sister and her friends constantly pull on him, he always laughs and remembers it fondly after the initial screaming. Because he has such profound differences physically and mentally, to be pranked and bothered like a normal big brother, and not handled delicately as someone disabled, is refreshing to him. But when it came to his interview on regrets, things turned serious.
VICE: Do you have any regrets?
Eva: Yes. I don’t want to say what.
Do you think your life would be better if you could erase whatever it is?
Eva: Mm-hm. Thanks a lot for asking me those questions.
Have you suddenly reached the sarcastic age?
Sadie: Nooooo, we haven’t. And no, I don’t regret anything, because if I do, then maybe I wouldn’t have this life. Maybe I would be dead right now, if I didn’t do every single thing I did. Maybe I have done some things wrong, but if I deleted it, then I wouldn’t be like this. Like I am right now. It’s not like I want to go around doing it again, but there’s still nothing I’d want to get rid of in the past.
Neighbor Girl: I’m sorry that my nana’s cat died. His name was Sam.
But do you have any personal regrets? I mean, you didn’t kill Sam, did you?
Neighbor Girl: No! He was a black cat and he always hissed at me. He was mean to me, but I still loved him.
Did you have angry thoughts about him that you feel bad about?
Neighbor Girl: Yeah. One time, I made him hiss at me by pulling one of his whiskers. I was only one or three, so I didn’t know that was wrong.
Little kids often learn to not hurt animals by hurting animals. It happens.
Neighbor Girl: But then I had bad thoughts about him, and right after that, he died.
You know you can’t hurt with your thoughts, right?
Neighbor Girl: Yeah, but I still feel bad.
Neighbor Girl: Wolf, that’s not funny! How would you like it if I threw your iPad away?
Can any of you name a lesson you learned from an evil thing you did? Why are you smiling, Sadie?
Sadie: Because I did evil things, but I didn’t learn anything, and I don’t regret them.
Sadie: Playing pranks on my brother Wolfgang. [whispers] Like creating a character and pretending I was Hero Brine and murdering him on Minecraft.
Neighbor Girl: Hahaha! It’s true, it’s true! Don’t tell him, don’t tell him!
Sadie: [whispers] Or putting a bunch of fake spiders in his bed under the blankets so when he got in he thought they were real spiders. And then also, I took two of his most lifelike puppets out of his closet and put them on his bed like they’d gotten up there on their own and when he walked in, he was terrified. He screamed like a little girl.
Neighbor Girl: He screamed like Justin Bieber sings.
Sadie: And once, I bought a teen magazine and cut out all the Justin Bieber pictures and hung them up in his room! Because I know he hates Justin Bieber, and it was even more terrifying than the spiders. And then when he went to the bathroom, there was one poster hanging across from the toilet so he’d have to see Justin Bieber staring at him, and I also cut Justin Bieber’s head out and taped it on the mirror so Wolf would think he had a Justin Bieber face.
Now what if he started crying, would you regret what you’d done then?
Sadie: He didn’t cry from that. He made a death-scream. Excuse me, I have to go prank Wolfgang now.
The girls disappear into Wolf’s bathroom, and “the ghost” from Wolf’s ghost radar app put up “GET OUT” signs everywhere, even on the poor guy’s toilet paper.
Wolf: What does “regret” mean?
Something you’re sorry for, that you wish you could undo.
I regret sneaking food and killing myself, and eventually I wouldn’t wake up the next day because I can’t breathe.
What do you mean by “sneaking food”?
I eat by g-tube, because when I eat by mouth, it goes into my lungs and rots there, because the flap in my throat doesn’t work. But food looks so good, and tastes so good, I can’t help myself sometimes. I also regret that I hurt somebody when I was younger. I hurt somebody really badly.
What does that regret feel like?
A little hot. In my chest area. I think of what I did to her when I feel down.
Do you wish you could undo it?
I don’t know how to undo anything. I’ve been psychotic my whole life. There’s so many things to undo. Since I hurt that lady, I haven’t been around her, but I sent her cards and stuff. I can’t say sorry to her face because I haven’t ever seen her again. I think I made her scared to go back to school.
Did you do it on purpose or was it an accident?
Well, I was really angry, I had been in a room having my g-tube and I was running away, I was stumbling down the stairs, and I think I tumbled on her a little. I was trying to run away from school and she was behind me and she tried to bring me back, she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Time to come back,” but I wasn’t thinking right, and I don’t like to be touched from behind, and I pushed her off me, and she fell on the stairs and got hurt really badly. I feel bad. She was fun, a very happy person. I think she was the only happy person there, happiest that can be with me.
Did you learn anything from the incident?
Yeah. Not to go psycho.
How do you not go psycho?
Just move to a different room with no people and no noise, or think about what I’m angry about instead of just running. What I did to that lady made me know I needed to make a big change in my life, in myself. Let’s use yesterday as an example. I was really cranky and upset because I didn’t sleep well and I wasn’t feeling well and I was tired and the long bus ride with the loud music, rock music, was angering me up. The music is on every single day and it’s a more than an hour ride. Music might be calming for other people, but it’s not calming for me. So when I was grumbling with my aide, Graham, after, and I was angry, I tried to think of what was happening. It took a little while, but then I realized that I was angry inside because of the loud music from before, and not Graham, so I went up to my room for a little while to be alone and quiet. But I was so grumpy with him before, I don’t even know if Graham is going to come back next week. I wasn’t very nice. Nothing too serious, but just mean and tired. I try to remember what happened when I pushed that lady so it never happens again. I know it was my fault.
When I get a regret like that, I start feeling pain. And I know that’s the pain I put in that other person. I don’t ever want to put pain in another person again, especially somebody who loves me, because that’s wrong, but also because I have to feel that pain for the rest of my life. Now anytime I feel trapped and I need to escape, I tell myself, “Make sure you don’t hurt anyone else when you’re running away.” I feel trapped when I have to go in a closed room to have a g-tube and I can’t be with the other kids eating by mouth. I used to be embarrassed about how I eat, but now I’m starting to think I can be with them, sit with them, even though they don’t have disabilities. My family doesn’t have disabilities, and I eat with them. I don’t want to be trapped in a room anymore. I’m ready to reveal myself.
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