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October 28, 2021

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Father-daughter bonding in the time of quarantine

When Yu Jida took his 5-year-old daughter on their first-ever father-daughter trip, he didn’t expect it to become a two-week quarantine in a 35-square-meter hotel room, a bonding experience quite restrictive and sometimes exhausting.

Yu and his daughter, nicknamed Dingchun, set out from Shanghai on a company retreat on October 15, planning to visit the Gobi Desert in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, in northwest China.

Dingchun was thrilled about the trip as it was the first time the two would travel together; Yu being usually busy with his hardware engineering job.

However, the exciting trip came to a grinding halt on October 17 after the nucleic tests of a couple from Shanghai turned out to be abnormal in Jiayuguan, Gansu, on October 15. After retesting in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, the couple was confirmed as COVID-19 positive the next day, plunging the northwestern part of the country into a new wave of outbreak.

The tourist group with which Yu traveled happened to be staying in the same hotel in Jiayuguan as the Shanghai couple, making them indirect contacts of the patients. “At first I was shocked,” Yu said. “Every day I have my hands full with Dingchun’s daily needs, arranging her meals, preparing snacks, coping with her occasional tantrums, playing with her, bathing her and putting her to bed.”

Since then, they have been largely confined in the hotel room, exploring all possible ways to kill time and stay upbeat.

The unexpected confinement did bring them closer than ever but also sometimes so close that it drained his energy.

“I don’t have any time for myself at all. Other colleagues started to work remotely after receiving their laptops. But it’s impossible for me to code over fragmented time periods,” Yu complained.

Yu also felt guilty for letting Dingchun down as the desert excursion she had looked forward to did not come to fruition. Also, he was worried the long stay indoors would harm her mental health. But it seems that Dingchun is coping quite well. Besides binge-watching cartoons, a rare indulgence, she also reveled at the piles of toys her mother sent over.

“My favorite ones are the bubble gun and the dinosaurs,” Dingchun said, though she has not bothered opening the math books her mother also sent.

To help Dingchun find more enjoyment, her mother in Shanghai literally ordered every toy that was available in nearby stores in Jiayuguan and had them urgently delivered to the hotel.

After seven negative tests, they are expected to undergo two more and return to Shanghai on October 31, when they might be subject to a new round of quarantine. “I want to travel with dad again in the future, but only when there are no more viruses,” Dingchun said.


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