Thursday, February 7, 2008

One Eternal Round

"Romney's residence Ryan speaking."

My Dad was crystal clear. That was the "proper" (Romneys are all about being proper) way to answer the telephone. The instruction was given dressed up as a Family Home Evening.

In my family we had some seriously fun family home evenings. We had backwards dinners (where the dishes and the participants came backwards), we had costume competitions, and we had an ice cream stairway to heaven lesson (and I sincerely doubt my parents were influenced in any way by Jimmy Page).

However, sometimes FHE was a big fat trick. The worst of all was the "Yard Party" that my parents announced a week in advance, refusing to provide any more details than "it's going to be fun!" For an entire week my eight year old mind conjured images of my Dad at the BBQ flipping burgers, with mom organizing games and pony rides and a clown to entertain me and my nieghborhood friends while that mean kid around the corner peered longingly over the fence feeling deep remorse for all past wrongs. Come to find out, a yard party consists of Dad barking out orders to seven children of various ages dragging an assortment of rakes, shovels, garbage bags and a lawn-mower around our back yard for the better part of two and a half hours.

Our phone etiquette FHE was not quite that bad. However, it did involve my dad role playing how the average phone call was handled by us kids. His mimicking was dramatized in such a manner that you couldn't help but feel shocked by the poor behavior he mirrored for you. He then followed up by telling us about his co-worker's Korean child (my dad could always find some kid from another country to use as an example of how we were failing to meet expectations) who answered the phone with perfect manners in the middle of studying twice as hard as we did. We were then subjected to rigorous telephone training.

While the aliterative nature of the telephone greeting was impressive, the training seemed a bit unnecessary and ... well ... kind of silly. That is until I had my own children answering the telephone in the most surprising ways.

-RING- ... "Who is this?" was one of the better greetings that our kids came up with. So after hearing Jessica's repeated complaints, I remembered how a Romney solves such a dilemna. We schedule something special - FHE. Actually in our case, we required 2 back-to-back FHE's. Last week we covered how to answer the telephone. This week - how to place a call. The components were simple:
1. Hello
2. This is (say your name)
3. Request the people you are calling for.
4. Talk or leave a message.
5. Goodbye

Things started out alright with Emma and Gabe. Jane wasn't quite as quick. Jessica took calls on the cellphone from the kids. I hung back to prompt them when they got stuck. Here's about how it went:

Dad: Dialing mom's cell for Jane
Mom: Hello?
Jane: hi, ummmm
Mom: Hello?
Jane: hmmmm ...
Dad: *whispering* who is this?
Jane: Who is this?!?!
Dad: *whispering* no ... who is this calling (pointing at Jane)?
Jane: Who is this calling?Dad: *whispering* no, no, no ... who are YOU (pointing intensely at Jane)?
Jane: Who are you!?

We couldn't quite get this call off the ground. We obviously need to call in the experts...even without the Dorothy Hamill haircut and the sweater polo-shirt...we think Grandma and Grandpa could whip Jane into shape. Look at how I turned out.


Paige said...

Oh, this is a great lesson. I'm thinking it would be really great in a training video or something? I detect a Romney series forthcoming.

John Holly Levi & Faith said...

Ya know what I do?
Don't let the kid answer the phone in the first place. Then you could avoid all that mumbo jumbo with the phone. Plus, you can screen calls and avoid people you really don't want to talk to.

Bridget said...

Thank you Holly. My feelings exactly. My children are not allowed to answer the phone. If they did, I am sure we would have switched our insurance company ten times, bought thousands of dollars worth of Mary Kay and donated their college savings to the local Humane Society.

Celia Fae said...

You really could start a series with your lessons. It would rival the Eyre's parenting monopoly.

All of these people with little kids who won't let them answer the phones do not know how to properly work a slave. Slaves are for answering the phone when you can't and bringing it to you. They'll learn.

Tammy said...

adorable! I love this...and with that many little ones running around, a training is in order! I love it, you will have a bunch of little customer service agents in Washington in no time!

Audry said...

Okay, that is so funny because my dad did the same thing, we said those same words, "Romney's this is Audry" and we had an FHE about it. Do you think it's a Romney thing?

Lauren said...

Hmmmmmm....a "Yard Party", huh? Thanks to you Ryan, I am now formulating a plan for my own Family Home Evening.

I think your mom is adorable with her Dorothy Hamill hair-do. Perhaps, my mom had the same stylist?

You know, I think Jane would be perfect person to have answer the phone everytime a telephone solicitor calls.

Adrianne said...

i happen to enjoy when I call and Jane answers. Please don't make hr an adult before her time.

gab said...

Hahaha! Love the vintage photo. Plaid pants were so IT back then weren't they?! Fun memory!

Me & My BOYS said...

Luckily my kids are way too shy (and too young) to even want to answer the phone. But I'll keep this in my memory for when I need to teach them.

andrea said...

yes. it was "ockey residence, andrea speaking" in our house as well. i HATED it and was mortified by it. i only did it if my parents were watching.
good luck on raising the next generation of charming little people. a follow-up post with mastery is in order.

Rochelleht said...

Oh yikes! We had to answer "Harris Residence" and I hated it. I'm such a rebel now. I say, "Hello".

Karen said...

That's great! I love that it was the topic of not one, but 2 FHEs. We do pretty well on the answering end, it's placing the call that stumps my kids, too. Will there be a training video for me to refer them to?

Elizabeth Caldwell said...

Can I please send my John to your house for this particular FHE.. He is 13 and still hasn't quite got it right!

Oh and now that he actually has his own cell (we no longer have a house phone) could you please include a bit about the importance of turning it on and actually checking messages from when it was turned off??

That would be great, let me know when to drop him off! LOL

TexasTwinsTwice said...

You guys are so funny--you should seriously write a book!

AMY said...

I remember Mike's mom telling me an FHE lesson she gave alone while her husband was out of town. It sort of ended the way M. Vidmar's did, by her spanking the kids and making them go to bed. The sacrifices, sometimes, of FHE with little kids. But, Mike remembers it.

Lisa-Marie said...

Oh we had the same FHE. But since we weren't active when I was little it didn't get called FHE and we DIDN'T get treats to go along with the lesson. Bummer. We were also trained in proper message taking and if it was found out that a message was not taken....GROUNDED!

And I'm with Holly. My little ones don't answer the phone.

Lisa-Marie said...

P.S. I might just do a post on WHY my little ones don't answer the phone. Would you mind?

Kristin said...

What is even scarier is when you end up sounding like your parents when you are yelling at your kids.

Stacy said...

You crack me up, Ryan. My parents are guilty of the same trickery you described, and of course now Cade and I are too! Thanks for helping me conjure up such fond memories!

Jessica, I don't even know why I'm commenting on your blog - I'm comment #387 for crying out loud. You're not even going to read it until July! I miss you guys - it's fun to read about all your goings-on. Let us know when you're coming down to Utah next!

Ilene said...

I don't see a need for this lesson. Little Emma was a pro when I called to talk to Jessica. She even whispered when telling me to "hold on" because Jessica was getting a blessing.

So impressive and so spiritually sensitive.

Heather said...

My Abbie will say "Is this a good time?" after she asks for the person. I told her that Princess Diana always did that in her phone calls and she was hooked.

Anonymous said...

such a great thing to do... can't stop em from answering the phone all the time, hey, have to go to the bathroom sometime right?

once a long time ago when james was probably about 3 (he's 12 now), I called in sick to work to go on a girls day out...

here's the scene, I'm in the shower, the phone rings, I know James and yell from the shower, do not touch the phone... too late. it was boss. James told him all my plans. nice James.

my bad... I taught him how to talk all too well, at too young of an age. my fault. I see that now.


crystal said...

Your posts featuring Ryan NEVER FAIL to crack me up.

Kimberly said...

Sorry for the late comment, but it occurred to me while reading this (hilarious) post that I can see an element of your attraction to Ryan (all of the family trainings), and I need more instruction from you on how to parent!