“My father’s friend” – a lesson in parenthood

On Aug. 22, my dear father Marat Zhumagulov would have turned 60. The following story is from the series of my interesting memories of him. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

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When I was a little kid, my dad, used to raise me in quite a strict manner.

Not that he did not indulge me. On the contrary, I had all imaginable and unimaginable toys, like a model railway, the pedal car, bicycles, all the novelties of automobile and military industry for kids. All these were enough to entertain children of our entire street. Every weekend there were mandatory trips to the Gorky Park, the circus and many other attractions in Almaty and around.

At the same time, any violation of manners or discipline was uncompromisingly punished by a “corner”.

Snorted? Disobeyed? Got dirty? Go stand in the corner for a while and rethink your behaviour!

This “education through corner” stressed me out greatly. “Everything is ok in my life. But when will the time come when I will not need to stand in the corner?” I asked myself.

I decided that such a moment came when my younger brother was born. I was four years old. “Now it’s the turn of another guy to stand in the corner,” I concluded.

Moreover, while my mom was lying in the maternity hospital, my dad and I did a good job at home and generally got along quite nicely.

And so, one day we prepared a parcel for my mom and went to the hospital. In the trolley bus, I found the right moment and raised the issue straight to the point:

“Dad, you have a newborn son whom you can now scold, pamper and all that. I suggest that from now on I will be your FRIEND…”, assuming, of course, the equality and privileges associated with such status.

The boy talked so loudly that a good half of the trolleybus passengers burst into laughter.

“I’ll think about it, sonny,” Marat answered quietly.

***

Many years later I tried to apply Marat’s “corner method” while educating my own children.

Once, my three-year-old daughter had scattered toys all over the room and categorically refused to clean up the place. I decided to deliver her a tough ultimatum (What a naïve dad!):

“You collect toys now, or go stand in the corner!”

The daughter had realistically compared the burdens and made a confident conclusion: “I choose the corner!”