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The stay at home dad: Unlikely Bob Ross superfans

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| January 30, 2021 1:00 AM

“We don’t make mistakes… just happy little accidents.”

So says Bob Ross, the iconic, bushy-haired painter and television host (RIP). “Happy Little Accidents” is also the title of a board game our family received as a Christmas present this year. One player draws a random squiggle on a card, then the rest of the players try to turn that squiggle into a masterpiece.

It’s a fun game, but our kids didn’t know anything about the man who inspired it.

Thankfully, dozens of episodes of Ross’ PBS show, “The Joy of Painting” are available on the Hulu streaming service. We decided to show it to the kids recently, and it took less than five minutes to create four young Bob Ross fanatics.

Our 9-year-old daughter, an artist in her own right, is enthralled by Ross’ wet-on-wet oil painting technique. Our 7-year-old son, always a bit hyperactive, finds the scenic images of forests, mountains and rocky beaches to be relaxing. Our 5-year-old daughter likes anything the older kids like.

And our 3-year-old son can’t stop repeating the catchphrases. His favorite:

“Oh what the heck?!” then pauses for comedic effect before adding, “Let’s have some fun!”

Now, every night before bed, the kids want to watch “The Joy of Painting.” You’d think it’d be a relaxing way to end the day, but no. The kids are just too excited about Bob Ross. They cheer when he washes a brush and “beats the devil out of it.” When he paints one tree, they yell at the screen until Bob “gives that tree a little friend.”

We have to pause the show whenever somebody gets up to go to the bathroom. Nobody wants to miss a single brushstroke.

How. Did. This. Happen?

While I’m aware of Bob Ross’ ever-growing reign as a pop culture icon, I never would have expected my kids to be part of the craze. They didn’t see the Ross-asaince on Twitch (none of us know what a “Twitch” is), and I don’t have a single Bob Ross Funko Pop, despite a collection that includes “essential” figurines of Mariah Carey, Bill Nye and about 45 different versions of Batman.

And yet, here I am, hanging up hand-drawn pictures of Bob Ross on my kids’ bedroom walls, right next to their posters of Elsa and Spider-Man. My 7-year-old son even made a giant banner with one sheet of printer paper for every letter in Bob Ross’ name. He added a few happy little clouds and trees in the background to complete the package.

Our kids agree on very few things. They all like macaroni and cheese. They all like playing “Uno,” but even then, each kid prefers a specific set of cards (Ninja Turtle version vs. “Minecraft” version vs. regular OG version vs. regular-but-with-”brighter-looking-cards” version). For now, we can add “The Joy of Painting” to that very small list.

Their obsession at least provides a nice little bonus for Dad. Nothing puts me to sleep faster than the soothing voice of Bob Ross. Whenever the kids want to watch “The Joy of Painting,” I get to take a 20-minute nap on the floor. I haven’t been this well-rested in years. What a happy little accident.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home parent to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired on Bob Ross-free days. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.