My children: What are they like?
I have three children: son Sayan, and daughters Syrga and Dolzatmaa-Syldys. Now the older children are grown up, they have families and children of their own. Sayan is 30. He graduated from Moscow State Pedagogic University specializing in jurisprudence, and he is working in his field.
Syrga is 28. Since finishing Russian State Social university she has been working at the ministry of education in Tuva. The younger daughter Dolzatmaa-Syldys, the favorite of the whole family, is in fifth grade at the No. 5 gymnasium. She is eleven.
The older children were born and spent their first years of life in Chadan, when I, working with the "Ayan" ensemble, was always torn between Chadan and Kyzyl, work and family. I barely signed out my son from the obstetrics hospital and took off on a tour. It was the same with my daughter. The family was united only after we were assigned a room in the dormitory; then my wife went to work and the kids went to school.
My wife Anna Arapchorovna, as a merchandise specialist, was always out late into the night accepting goods. The children did their homework alone, cooked, and Sayan plaited his sister's braids. We lived around the tower, and the kids went to School No. 9. My son, even though he was still small himself, used to take his sister by the hand and, as the older brother, would lead her along, and when they had to cross the street, he would put Syrga on his back. My children were always calm and obedient. We are Khovalygs, and people from this lineage are always balanced, silent and self-sufficient.
With my wife, we worked without putting our hands down, and never noticed how out children grew up. The youngest daughter was born when I was forty-one. I never managed to sign my youngest one out of the hospital, my newborn daughter was already at home when I returned from tour. And when I got back from the next tour, she was already running around the house.
The youngest one gets a lot of love and tenderness. It was different with the older ones; not because we loved them less, but because we were growing up together, learning to stand on out feet. But they are not jealous and love their little sister. Her name Syldys - Star, which they chose, we put together with the name given to her by the lama, and it came out as Dolzatmaa-Syldys.
When people see us with our youngest one, they often ask: "Is this your grand-daughter? She looks so much like both of you!" Dolzatmaa-Syldys is a happy child, because she is surrounded by love of her parents as well as her brother and sister, who love her just as much as her parents.
I am already anxious about her. When the older kids began to go dancing, we would go with my wife to the disco and wait for them in the car, the we all went home together. We felt calmer that way. Or else the kids would tell us where they were and when they were coming home.
Children - is it only problems or only joy?
It is my riches and happiness. That is how it was with Tuvans in the old times: people were poor, but the best food went to the children, old clothes would be taken apart and re-made for the kids, new clothes would be sewn for them, and kids never went around ragged, hungry, and unloved. And other people also cared about and respected their children, and raised them with love and care.
It is only now that homeless children showed up, and those that are given to orphanages. A contemporary Tuvan family prefers to limit itself to one or two kids, oh, we can't bother with more. Some want only sons. Well what, do you mean a daughter is not a human being? For me, a son or a daughter are equally precious. And a boy who marries your daughter will also become a son to you.
Your ideal man: who was your role model?
I have two fathers: the native one - Kim-ool Azyrandayevich Khovalyg and the one who raised me - Toka Kavayevich Saaya.
My step-father died when I was in sixth grade, and I saw my native father for the first time when I was sixteen, but I grew up surrounded by grandfathers and uncles from both sides of the family, for whom I was their grandson and nephew. That is how highly moral human relationships were back then. They brought me up to be a real man, and they were my ideal role models of masculine behavior.
What are the man's and woman's obligations: how are they determined in your family.
My chief obligation is to make money. My wife does the housework, and our daughter helps. If she is on a business trip, I can take care of the laundry, dishwashing, or cooking.
In a private house, I would chop wood, take care of firing the oven and of the farming chores. I know all of it very well from childhood. After eighth grade, I decided to be a sheep herder, to help mom to raise my brothers and sisters. As a minor, I was made a herder's aide, but in reality I was doing all the work by myself. I rode horses, herded sheep, horses, and I could slaughter a cow by myself. These skills came in useful on tour in the USA, when we decided to slaughter a ram to make izig-khan (blood sausage).
My chief achievement in raising children.
The fact that my children graduated from university, became specialists, can solve their own problems, never need money from their parents, live in friendship and raise their own kids. They are proud of me, but strive to support themselves.
My main mistake as a father, and how I corrected it.
The fact that I was so often absent from home. When I toured abroad with the "Huun-Huur-Tu" I was on the average absent for six months a year. But on return, I always tried to make up for what I missed. Especially with my son, who needed answers for male matters. I took him on trips to the district, and taught him to ride horses and to stand up for himself.
Harmful habits: can a man conquer them?
Among my friends there are those who made a decision and stopped drinking without medical help. That means that a man can do anything if he really wants to. I use alcohol moderately and only on holidays, but I never managed to quit smoking. I liked the smell of tobacco since childhood, when my grandpa used to ask me to start a pipe for him.
For my profession as a throat-singer, smoking is a very harmful habit. I tried to quit and I even went for a year without smoking, but then I went back to it. I use various herbal teas that my mother taught me about for bronchitis and other throat diseases.
Books I read aloud to my kids and which I advise them to read.
I loved to read expressively, acting it out, to my older children, Korney Chukovski's "Mukha-Tsokotukha" (children's book about a fly). It was fun for them to watch papa acting it out. But now my daughter Dolzatmaa-Syldys, grandson Maksimka and granddaughter Dan-Khayaa listen, watch a little bit how I act out the Fly and Mosquito, and get bored - it is not interesting for them. The times are different now, and children are different. Instead of the beautiful Soviet-era animated films, a different kind showed up - where the hero is a rectangular sponge with bulging eyes. And that is interesting to the kids. I advise them to read tales in their native language.
Is it necessary to punish a child?
In old times, Tuvans did not punish children, they tutored them and reasoned with them. One could scold them, but never raise a hand to them.
The main thing that I have taught my children, and what I am still teaching them.
I taught my older kids the work of a herder. They can do everything: slaughter a sheep, butcher it and clean the organs, and to take care of young animals, to let them out for feeding.
I never stop telling them: "Respect your elders, and don't hurt the young ones. Don't brag that so many people know your father, National khoomeiji of Tuva and Merited artist of Russia, address people with respect, call them "ugbai" - older sister, and "akyi" - older brother, and those who are younger, address them as "dunmai".
One day the younger daughter was doing her homework with the help of Internet. I told her: "You will only learn to use ready-made stuff, and things will be hard for you later on. When you finish school, your parents will be around sixty, we will be old, and you won't be able to depend on us. So you should begin to learn to use your own mind and abilities."
The hardest question a child ever asked me.
When he was eight and sick in the hospital, Sayan found out that people die. When our son asked us: "Papa, mama, why do people die?" we had no answer for him.
The obligation of the father: what it means to me.
My duty is to raise the children, give them education, prepare them for independent life and point them in the correct direction. Much credit is due to my wife Anna Arapchorovna for the fact that my children grew up to be good people. If I did not have a strong background and her support, I could never make it as a professional artist. My gratitude to her.
Photo: one of favorite spots for a walk for the Khovalyg family - obelisk "Cent Azii" on the bank of Yenisei. From left to right - son Sayan, mother Anna Arapchorovna, yunger daughter Dolzatmaa-Syldys, papa Kaigal-ool Kim-oolovich, and the older daughet Syrga. 8 February 2013.