Storytime with Erna #5: Personal Narratives—Sending a Parcel

About Personal Narratives: For Teachers, Therapists, and Parents

Various authors have emphasized the power of personal narratives in encouraging interaction between children of all abilities. Personal narratives provide us with oppotunities to share how we experience events in our lives. It is a powerful tool for enhancing self–other understanding and encourages sharing with others. There is no right or wrong personal narrative—it only describes our own experience. In doing so, it provides a strong incentive for others to respond and share their own experiences and perceptions.

This blog explores the concept of sending a parcel to someone as well as our emotional responses and reactions to the process. As before, I would encourge professionals and parents to use this short story as a means to encourage the exploration of ideas and emotions with their own students and children.

The Use of Questions to Expand on Meaning-making

I include different questions at the end of the narrative. Some of these questions might seem too difficult. However, I would like to encourage you to expose your child to all the questions: Try and simplify the question, rather than merely omitting it. The aim is to understand the personal narrative from the author’s perspective, but then also to share one’s own exepriences on the current or related topic. Meaning-making between people develops as we are able to share and understand different ways in which individuals can experience similar events.

Preparation for the Story: Expanding Understanding of Concepts

I provide some ideas for explaining the concepts below by providing links where appropriate. Please use these in a creative way as you see fit.

  • Parcel: A box or thing wrapped in paper that can be carried or sent by mail. Simlar words: package, packet, box.
  • Tracking: Once you pay postage on your parcel at the Post Office , USPS Tracking® is automatically activated. You use the tracking number on your mailing receipt to then access delivery information. The Postal Service cannot track or locate an item without the tracking number.
  • Traveling restrictions: These are guidelines or rules that dictate where you can travel to. These rules are intended to reduce the number of visitors to a particular country. For example, here are the Italian travel restrictions.
  • American treats: Something special to eat. These treats can be sweet or savory.
  • Expectations: A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Hopes of what should happen. Something you might want to happen.
  • Route that the parcel followed: Indianapolis to Chicago, then to Lisbon in Portugal; from there it went to Milan in Italy and finally to Sardinia.

Personal Narrative: Sending Off a Parcel

Like so many other people, I also couldn’t see my family over the holiday period because of Covid restrictions on travelling. This was difficult for me, as I couldn’t be with my children the previous year as well. Rather than just feeling sorry for myself, I decided to do something about it. So I decided to send my daughter and her friends in Italy a box of American treats for the holidays.

I went to the local store and had fun choosing some chocolate chip cookies, candy, and a variety of snacks. I carefully packed them into a box to make sure that the cookies would not get broken during the trip. Then I took the parcel to the local post office.

I sent the parcel off on December 1 to make sure that the parcel would arrive around Christmas time. The man at the post office assured me that the parcel would take between 10 and 14 workdays to get to Italy. I therefore went home and felt sure that the parcel would arrive in time for Christmas.

On December 20 I became a bit concerned whether the parcel had arrived. I asked my daughter, but she replied, “No mom, not yet.” So, I waited and waited and got quite impatient, as it was getting close to Christmas time. Why had the parcel not arrived? Did it get lost? Then I remembered that the man at the post office gave me a tracking number for the parcel. This meant that I could look online to check the location of the parcel on its journey from Indiana to Italy.

Tracking the Parcel

I went online to enter the tracking number of the parcel, and there I saw the long way the parcel had to travel to get to Italy. The parcel went from Indiana to Chicago, then to Lisbon in Portugal, and from there it went to Milan in Italy. The parcel went through customs in Milan—so it took a couple of days before the parcel could travel further to Sardinia, where my daughter and her friends are. We just had to be patient and wait until it was delivered.

Well, there certainly was a delay. It was January 3, and I started wondering why the parcel had taken such a long time. I was disappointed but realized that it was quite possible that the post offices around the world have fewer workers because workers were sick at home with Covid. We needed to be thankful that there are workers who, despite Covid, can still work to get these parcels delivered, even if it is a bit later. Then I had another thought: perhaps the delay in the delivery of the parcel is not that bad, as it extends the Christmas period for a couple of weeks!

It Arrived!

The parcel arrived on January 5, and my daughter and her host family were most excited to open the parcel. I felt very happy about this—it all worked out well in the end. Even though the parcel arrived later, there were no real negative consequences. We just had to adjust our expectations a bit!

Questions to Explore:

  • Why did Erna decide to send the parcel to her daughter?
  • If you can send some American treats to a friend of yours, what would you include in the parcel? Why would you choose these treats?
  • When Erna realized she was getting impatient, what did she do? Refer to online tracking.
  • What does it mean to track something? Why is it necessary to track something?
  • Do you ever get impatient? Tell us what you do when you get impatient.
  • Erna thought the reason for the delay was that postal workers were off sick with Covid. Can you think of other reasons why the parcel could have arrived later than expected? For example, canceled flights, or too many parcels for workers to deal with due to a dramatic increase in the number of holiday mailings.
  • How did Erna’s expectations change when she realized that the parcel would not arrive by christmas? Do you think this was a good change?
  • How many days did it take for the parcel to arrive in Italy? You will need to look at a calendar for this!
  • Have you ever received a parcel? How did you feel when you opened it?
  • Can you tell your own story about sending off or receiving a parcel?

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