[last laugh]

My Stupidest Mistake

By Clint McElroy

Please allow me the privilege of telling you the story of the stupidest thing I ever did.

I know what you're thinking. With all the bonehead decisions Clint McElroy has made in his 57 percent of a century lifespan, what could possibly qualify as the stupidest?

I have always wanted a daughter. When Leslie was pregnant the first time, we were convinced she was carrying Megan Elizabeth McElroy. Justin caught us with our pants down when he showed up (when he was conceived too but why share those sordid details). We didn't even have a boy's name picked out. We had it narrowed down to three and he chose his own name there on the scales in the Delivery Room, but that's another column for the future.

Exactly three years later, we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Catherine Gail McElroy, and surprise, surprise, Travis made an entrance instead. We should have taken that as a sign: Travis ALWAYS makes an entrance.

When pregnancy test No. 3 said: "Brace yourself - here comes another one," I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was going to be my little girl.

You see, I had this dream. THE BIG DREAM, I called it. More like a prophecy, really, because I could close my eyes and see it. There we were at her wedding reception, dancing that first dance to "At the Ballet," her dainty feet dodging my big clod-hoppers as we moved across the dance floor. She would look up at me and say, "I love you, Daddy." My heart would do flip-flops just thinking about it. I cherished THE BIG DREAM.

This time we wanted no surprises. We actually had the ultrasound. My lovely swollen wife lay back on the table, the doctor smeared that ice-cold goo across her belly, put the device on her and we looked at the screen and saw my beautiful unborn child.

My beautiful unborn MALE child.

There was no doubt about it, because he turned sideways for a profile shot that left NO question in your mind. (In retrospect: SO Griffin.)

But it was there in that doctor's office that I did the stupidest thing I ever did. For a fleeting nanosecond - I mean less time than a gnat batting an eyelash - I let a teeny-tiny itsy-bitsy look of disappoint cross my face.

And Les saw it.

Dummy, dummy, dummy, dummy.

To this day, I can see the expression on her face. So hurt. Crushed, even. She wanted to see her adoring husband beaming with the happiness that the life he had helped create was indeed there, with a strong heartbeat, and an apparent leaning towards exhibitionism.

But what did Daddy the Dope do? Let her see his molecule of disappointment.

Happily, I can tell you that I never saw that hurt, crushed expression on her face ever again, and the fact that she didn't boot my sorry behind to the curb then and there is indicative of what a remarkable woman she was.

Understand this: I wouldn't change one genetic strand of my three boys. There has never been a father as proud of his children as myself. They are talented, accomplished, funny, intelligent young men who have grown into truly GOOD people. If you know anything about me, through the radio, through these columns or conversation you know how I feel about Juice, Scraps and Ditto. Of all the things I have created in my life, they are the best things I have ever been a part of.

And what do you know: I got daughters after all.

First came Sydnee, super-smart doctor, hilarious podcaster and gifted director of plays. She didn't become my daughter in a delivery room but in a church, when she married Justin, filling a void in his life... and all the McElroys' lives.

The second came through marriage as well, when I married Carol. My stepdaughter Abby is warm and loving, a tremendous mom and a talented photographer. I'm pretty sure she loved me before Carol did. So she is wise indeed.

And now, plans are underway to add TWO more daughters to the roster: two columns from now (Fall of 2013, I believe), I will be writing about the wedding of Travis and his bride-to-be Teresa. This daughter has the biggest, most tender heart of anyone I've ever met in my time on this big blue marble. She is a wonderful actress, and a lifesaver, literally and figuratively. She certainly has saved Travis' life.

And most recently, Rachel stepped into the on-deck circle. Griffin popped the question on one knee, surrounded by red roses and illuminated by Christmas lights, and with the uttering of a single "Yes," she became my next daughter-to-be. She is brilliant, insightful and totally charming. Griffin fell for her the first time he met her, and to be honest, so did Carol and I.

The philosopher Betsy Stutler once told me: "You always wanted girls and now you will have FOUR. You are blessed."

Yes, ma'am I am. On so many levels.

You see, I am already WAY ahead of the game. My BIG DREAM will actually come true four times.

I danced with Daughter Sydnee at her wedding reception. I danced with Daughter Abby at hers. Two down, two to go.

Daughter-To-Be Teresa, Daughter-To-Be Rachel: consider yourselves warned. These big clodhoppers have actually grown over the years.

Just like my love for my four daughters.


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