But, by and large, I do not think this counts as flogging.


I hit my daughter four times.

The first time was when she was six years old. We came to visit my grandmother in Donetsk, in the same house and the very courtyard where I was born. My younger brothers did not have children yet, and the six-year-old Ksenia was at the center of attention. Gifted with a mass of toys, she began to treat them casually, scattered around the courtyard and rooms, and, despite my exhortations, did not want to collect and stack gifts in one place.

The situation was complicated by the fact that my demands were perceived with hostility not only by her, but also by her mother, that is, my then-wife, her grandmother (my mother), and her great grandmother (my grandmother) too. All of them instantly began to shout that the child was still small and tried to assemble the toys themselves, but Ksenia again scattered them.

And at one point, as one would expect, my daughter did not find any doll. Tears poured from her eyes by the stream, and the entire female part of the family set off in search of the missing toy. Grandfather was at work, his father did not come to Donetsk, so I was the only man there, and did not take part in the search for the toy.

My mother was outraged and demanded that I join the women rushing around. I refused. Ksenia, who was watching our bickering, stood nearby and listened attentively to the conversation. Remembering the case of “a-na-na-grandfather,” I suppressed such thoughts in my mind, but I couldn’t completely shut them out. And when my wife asked our daughter what her father was doing, she made a dismissive grin and said something like, “he fell apart and is reading the newspaper.”

I looked into her eyes and delivered a strict, short sermon demanding she speak politely and respectfully about her father, otherwise she would be punished. However, the small impudent gal, incited by her mother and mine, did not heed the warning and answered the repeated question of what her father was doing with a dismissive reply: “He’s sitting and can’t tear his ass off the bench!”

I stood up without yelling, broke a twig off a bush growing nearby, went up to my daughter, and whipped her on the ass. A heart-rending roar filled the room. My daughter rushed to her mother. I stomped from behind, trying to portray that I wanted to catch up with her. “Oh, you crappy girl,” I shouted after her. “I’ll catch up now, and I’ll flay the skin from your ass. I will show you how to be rude to your father!”

I didn’t hear more rudeness from her, with the exception of cases in the graduation classes of the school, but this was a completely different song.

The second time when my daughter went to the beginning of the second grade. She finished the first class brilliantly, with only “five” in all subjects, and I did not expect that there would be problems in the second class. But it happened. Accustomed to hanging out all day over the summer for days, she did not bother learning lessons and starting classes. Arriving from school, my daughter threw a satchel under the bed, dined, and ran to her friends. In the evening after a walk, her mother seated her for lessons, but a tired child began to nod, did tasks somehow, and she was put to bed.

Times were hard. The crisis of the 90’s crippled the family budget. Thanks to my ex-wife, we drove into the outback, and I personally had to rush between work and part-time jobs in order to earn at least some money. Looking at my daughter’s diary at the end of the week, I was amazed at the number of “deuces,” “triples,” and comments dotted on the pages. I began to leaf through her notebooks and found the same thing in them.

The ex-wife, but still real at that time, clearly took the path of alcoholism and did not want to educate her child. In her mother’s house in a 50-liter can, in which the braga was ripening, two women hourly stuffed each other to such an extent that it became impossible to discuss something serious with them.

I repeatedly tried to talk with my wife, but she drunkenly chuckled and answered defiantly: “Ksenia is not listening to me! Educate her yourself!” Several years will pass, and the daughter will indeed cease to obey her, bringing us a lot of problems and troubles. Then I had very little time, and I again took up the twig, considering it right.

On Saturday, what was repeated before on weekdays happened again. The daughter came from school, threw the briefcase under the bed, and, perching at the table, began to wait for dinner. Mother-in-law poked around in the garden. I told my wife that I would feed the baby myself, and my wife, grabbing a three-liter jar of braga from the corridor, went to my mother. I poured the daughter of borscht, cut the bread, and the girl began to eat. Then there was the second, there was compote. Finally, lunch was over.

I sat in a chair at the door, and when my daughter tried to go out into the corridor, I ordered her to bring a satchel with a diary and notebooks. She began to argue with me, convinced that her friends were waiting for her, but I peremptorily requested a satchel and say myself in a chair opposite. My daughter handed me a satchel and hurriedly rushed to the door, trying to escape to the street. I caught her hand and sat her on the sofa in the corner opposite from the door.

Education of a soldier is based on orders, rewards, and penalties. I was not taught at the academy to raise children. I started flipping through the diary and asking her why she got such low marks and why she behaved badly in the classroom. The little liar invented 100 and 500 reasons, but I did not begin to incriminate her in a lie and engage in debate with her, but folded the notebooks and diary back into briefcase and said:

“You studied well in first grade because you tried.”

“I don’t understand all this!” she cried.

“Now you have bad grades because you stopped trying.”

“It’s not true, the teacher is finding fault with me!”

“You began to ignore the lessons and stopped listening to the teacher. Therefore, it is not clear to you what she is saying, and therefore, she is writing comments to you.” The little liar continued to argue with me, but I cut her off and said:

“I will give you new notebooks. You sit down and do all the lessons that you studied poorly, rewrite all the tasks. And you won’t go for a walk until you start to study perfectly again.”

“I won’t do anything!” she howled.

“In that case, you get a twig on the ass!” I threatened.

“Well, hit me! I’m not afraid!” shouted my daughter.

That’s when I knew that she was afraid of being beaten, because I had heard more than once with what fear she was telling her mother how in summer, fathers had beaten her street friends.

Of course, the procedure was extremely unpleasant for me. But it was impossible to retreat and leave her studies to chance. I went out into the yard and broke off a twig from a bush growing near the porch. Returning to the room, I hoped that my daughter would repent and start catching up on what she had lost in school, but her tense pose and hostile gaze spoke of something else. I whipped her legs. A hearty screech pierced the apartment. She darted into the next room, I snapped her after the ass, and she squealed again. I, as in the first case, pretended to be trying to catch up with her, stamped my feet loudly, and said: “Such rubbish, sit down to learn lessons immediately, otherwise I will flay the skin from your ass! You won’t walk to friends until you start to study perfectly again. Come sit down for lessons immediately! ”

The daughter, seeing that she had nowhere to hide, sobbing, sat down at the table and began to sort the textbooks. I brought her new notebooks.

Saturday, Sunday, and the whole next week passed for the study. I had to take time off from work, stop additional part-time jobs, but I clearly controlled her homework and preparation for school classes. Her excellent studying resumed.

The third time, my daughter began for biting her nails. I must honestly admit that she inherited this bad habit from me. I struggled with my ugly addiction with varying degrees of success and seemed to have defeated it, but it was revived by my daughter. Seeing how my daughter absentmindedly chewed her nails, I repeatedly pulled her, explained what was wrong, and demanded that she stop. Nothing helped.

I took drastic measures and told my wife to rub our daughter’s nails with red pepper, but the scoundrel, who, as always, was tipsy, burst out laughing and replied that my daughter had learned to bite her nails from me and, therefore, I had to deal with this ailment.

Rubbing with pepper did not help. The daughter immediately rushed to the washstand and thoroughly washed her fingers. Not only that, this little egoza was hiding behind her mother’s skirt and teasing me, grimacing and biting her nails deliberately and defiantly. My wife and mother-in-law laughed smugly. My patience snapped, and I warned my daughter that if I saw her biting her nails again, I would spank her. In response, she showed me her tongue and ran to her mother.

I began to wait for a convenient moment. I did not have to wait long. The next Sunday, the mother-in-law and wife left for the bazaar, and my daughter sat down at the table, painting something in the album and defiantly biting her nails. I took a thin strap, slowly approached her from behind and, catching her hand, whipped at her fingers. A heart-rending screech announced the room. I threw off the strap, grabbed the scissors lying on the table, and, pulling her hand to me, shouted: “Now I will cut the nails off your fingers!” My daughter was hysterical, swearing that she would never bite her nails again. I let her go, adding that if I ever see her biting her nails somewhere, I would cut off her fingers to the very palms. I did not see her biting her nails anymore.

The fourth time I had to use spanking when my daughter was in sixth grade. The background of this case is as follows: they offered me a promising job, and we left for one of the regional centers of Russia. At first, everything went well, but my daughter needed to go to school. We placed her in one of the best lyceums available in the city. But problems began with the studies. The lyceum practiced learning English from the second grade, and the lessons in mathematics were also in-depth. The daughter’s diary was again full of “triples,” but I did not scold her, but gave my wife the task of finding tutors so that they would pull her up to a normal level. The school year passed. The “triples” in the diary gave way to “fives” and “fours.” But my joy with the work turned out to be short-lived; the company went bankrupt, and we, slightly defeated, were forced to go back. I swept around the town for the purpose of finding a job, my mother-in-law and wife began to mock me again, and my daughter returned to the school from which she left a year ago. It became easy for her to learn, and she began to skimp on classes; she skipped classes, did it somehow. The luggage of knowledge gained at the lyceum gave her the opportunity to stay afloat, but the triplets and remarks about poor behavior again appeared in the diary.

Exhortations did not help. My daughter had matured and become more advanced in debate. She chanted “different programs,” “I got confused in subjects,” “how much you can learn about the same topic,” and so on. In the end, I got tired of it. I took a twig and said: “If you don’t start studying at this ordinary school with excellent marks, you will get a beating!” In response, she made a contemptuous face and said: “Well, hit me, I’m not afraid!” I realized that she had forgotten what a twig is, and smacked it on her ass. Squealing, my daughter rushed to her mother. I whipped her after her again and shouted: “If you will not study very well, I will flog you!”

My daughter’s studies returned to normal, but my joy was short-lived. What happened in the second and sixth grade turned out to be flowers. In the ninth grade, the daughter again abandoned her studies. I had no desire to apply physical punishment to a teenager, almost a girl, but my exhortations did not help. She began to openly ridicule all my attempts to talk to her, and the drunken wife and mother-in-law added fuel to the fire, insulting and humiliating me and provoking my daughter to rudeness. My attempt to resort to a proven medicine—the twig—met fierce resistance from my wife and, especially, mother-in-law. The daughter darted behind her, and the old scoundrel stood up and, spreading her hands, screamed heartrendingly:

“Sadist, ghoul! Do not dare beat the child!”

“Ksenia!” I said to my daughter. “You will get it anyway. Either you will study excellently and without comment, or you will be beaten.”

At the word “excellent,” she began to make faces at me, and the mother-in-law screamed:

“Let her study as well as she can!”

“She can study very well,” I replied.

“Then let her study as she wants,” retorted the old scoundrel.

A few days later, I received a summons from the children’s welfare department of the police. I had to go. The head of the children’s room, the dearest captain Yuri Malikov, understood me very well. But…but he asked me not to touch my daughter anymore. By that time, I, exhausted by the hardships of life in a mother-in-law’s house with a sluttish alcoholic wife and, as it turned out about the mother-in-law, who was twice in prison in her youth, had already counted the days until I could pick up my son and leave this bedlam. Therefore, I promised Malikov that there would be no more conflicts between my daughter and me, and I ceased to control my daughter’s studies.


I flogged my son only once, but it was from the heart. I had high hopes for him and wanted him to become an outstanding athlete. As I could, I created conditions for him. Everything went according to plan: he was taken to the CSKA youth sports school and he came to the attention of the coaches of the youth team of Russia. But at one point, he got into a mess, so much so that I had to take up the belt.

By that time, I was introduced to a hockey coach whose son played in one of the NHL clubs. Naturally, I began to ask him how he managed to achieve this, and it turned out that I was going the same way. But it was easier for my acquaintance; his wife worked as a track and field coach, resolved all disputes between father and son in favor of the parent, and helped her husband deal with his son in physical training. However, in spite of this, the young hockey player once too got involved and refused to go to training.

“And what did you do?” I asked my acquaintance.

“What could I do?” he answered with a question to the question. “I took the belt and hit him, and then drove him to training.”

“And he is not offended?”

“What grudges?” My interlocutor dazedly stared at me. “He played the fifth season in the NHL. He bought his mother and me a house and cars.” He nodded at the Land Cruiser parked nearby.

I didn’t want to beat my son. I loved him then and love him now, but verbal admonitions did not help. Something had to be done. I remembered the story of my hockey acquaintance. My soul was bursting with pity for my child, but I took the belt and began to whip my son on the ass. After a few minutes of flogging, he screamed that he would go to training. I gave him time to pack up and rode with him. On the way, I warned him that if he quit sports, I would send him to live with his mother in the provincial district center, where my ex-wife continued to get drunk with her mother and lead a wild life.

The son still quit sports. Not right away. At 16, he was recruited by a professional team. He was considered promising, and I thought that the issue was resolved; if he didn’t end up in the NBA, then he would definitely be on some kind of strong European team. But my son, realizing that I had no right to force him to play sports, began to take time off from training, to miss practice, and, supported by his mother and sister in this pursuit, lost all interest and abandoned basketball.


For all installments from In the Shadow of the Belt, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Introduction
  2. Chapter 1: Early Childhood
  3. Chapter 2: School? This is Just the Beginning, Baby…
  4. Chapter 3: Cognizing Life
  5. Chapter 4: Football as it Is
  6. Chapter 5: My Friend Sasha Bichukov
  7. Chapter 6: Score
  8. Chapter 7: Again, the Transience of Being, Part 1
  9. Chapter 7: Again, the Transience of Being, Part 2
  10. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 1
  11. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 2
  12. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 3
  13. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 4
  14. Chapter 8: Old Colony, Part 5
  15. Chapter 9: School Again, Part 1
  16. Chapter 9: School Again, Part 2
  17. Chapter 10: Drama Studio
  18. Chapter 11: Basketball
  19. Chapter 12: Why Did I Join the Military?