Marzia: Suddenly I hear crying and shouting in the living room. It was my daughter. She was having a hysterical breakdown because they went down to meet the mother of her friend. They realized we were in a full lockdown. So the building was sealed off and nobody could get out of the building.
Najib: I heard you hosted a birthday party and something unexpected happened.
Marzia: In June, it was my daughter’s 11th birthday, we decided to have a small dinner party with her good friends. At the time, some cases were popping up in Beijing but life was almost normal. The kids were having fun and it was time for the first friend to go home. So my daughter brought her down to the lobby to meet her mother and suddenly I hear crying and shouting in the living room. It was my daughter. She was having a hysterical breakdown because they went down to meet the mother of her friend, they realized we were in a full lockdown. So the building was sealed off and nobody could get out of the building because there was a potential close contact in our building.
So we realized quickly that we had 10 11-year-old kids in our apartment. And thank goodness it was a potential close contact, so it was only 5 days of lockdown. If it was a positive case, we would have been locked for 10 days with the kids. Now I can smile about it and even laugh about it. But at the time it was a big shock. Imagine the other parents, they couldn’t get their kids. The other parents were more anxious than us. We had to handle the situation. We had a camp in our in our living room. We arranged all the beds. Kids at that age, some are more independent than others. Some kids were not used to sleepovers. Some kids had the best time of their life. We had to arrange for food, have games because we didn’t want them to spend the whole day on the TV or phones. Monday came the school organized online classes and online games. They even arranged psychologists to talk to the kids individually. For us it was a bit of a shock in terms of logistics and spending so many days with kids. But for such young kids, we don’t know what’s the implication on mental health.
Then they became famous in school. They were called the Famous 10. It was not always easy. But we had support from everybody. The parents got organized very quickly. Each parent got a lunch or a dinner to support us. And they were sending comfort food for their own kids.
We ended up having boxes of deliveries that we had to return once the 5 days were over. My daughter was having a blast. But at one point I also asked her to put some rules, say, cleaning their beds, cleaning the garbage. She put down a list of tasks for everyone, we really had at the end a good time.
The kids made us a drawing to thank us at the end. I have to admit I was glad when it was over. Now this is an incredible, memorable experience that will stay with us forever. The most difficult thing, though, is my son was locked out with somebody else. My son was having himself a birthday party with his friends when we got locked down. Things could come in, but nothing could get out. So we told him that you can stay with your friends. Thanks to the mom of his friends. So he also had a fantastic 5-day party with his own friends.
Najib: Thank you very much, Marzia. What an incredible story.