Christmas is a time to celebrate, and I’d like to highlight a man who is a true celebrity.
His name is Frank Somerville. He’s a news anchor for KTVU in Oakland, California. Some of you may have seen him on television and know his personality. But I know that he’s a celebrity, not because of his profession, but because he is a dad. To his African American adopted daughter, he is one patient, terrific dad. If you and I could share a soda with his daughter, I think we’d get an earful of praise for her dad.
Frank recently posted to his Facebook page a photo of himself using the long handle of a comb to remove her cornrow braids. Many of you fathers have probably never braided nor removed your daughter’s hairdos, but let me tell you this is no small feat. Most mothers hate doing it because it takes time, and it can hurt little girls. Kudos to Frank for picking away at her curls to get them out.
The photo of Frank went viral on Facebook. It has been shared more than 4000 times, has more than 20,000 likes, and almost 2400 comments. Wow! The story about Frank’s Facebook photo caught the attention of the national press, too. He and his family were recently featured on CNN (see video below).
It’s a simple photo showing a dad and his daughter going about the ordinary events of their day. Why, we wonder, would people like us be so taken with it?
As a professional listener of girls, I can tell you why. Because every kid—even the kid in each one of us adults—wants attention from our dads. So when we see a father acting so tenderly towards his daughter, it grips us.
Dads are everything to us. They are everything comfortable, strong, kind, and painful. Our dads are the ones we take to our graves. For good or ill, our dads change us. They do this when we’re little, when we’re teens, and even when we’re adults. That’s the mysterious power of a dad. They keep influencing us and molding us throughout our lives.
Who else does this for us? Sometimes our mothers do, rarely a spouse does, but even as much love as we feel toward them, it doesn’t impact us the way our dads do. They have an authority in our lives like no other. I believe that it’s supposed to be this way.
That’s why the photo moves us. We want to be the one sitting in the chair beneath our father while he attends to our simple needs. We want to know that he’s willing to love us just the way we are, even if our skin is a different color. We want to know that he cares about our hairstyle.
The need we have for our dads to simply love us is primal. That’s why it feels so intense.
It begins when we are infants and it never leaves, even after our father dies. My regular readers know that I lost my own precious dad 18 months ago and every single day, I ache to talk to him. He wasn’t a perfect Dad, but he loved me like no other person alive. He thought I was pretty and smart. I don’t know if I was or wasn’t, but it didn’t really matter. I knew that he thought I was these things, so the world felt great to me.
If you are blessed to be a dad, take time this Christmas season to fool with your kid’s hair. Love her and celebrate her. If you have a son, take him for ice cream. These are the things your kids really want. Forget the expensive gifts. They just want you and a bit more of your attention. Because to them, you are the real deal. You are their number one celebrity.