April Wallace: Words still fun with kiddos

April Wallace
awallace@gmoore


A few weeks ago, as my husband and I were cleaning the after-dinner mess, I mentioned this cool new word game I had seen my friends playing for a couple weeks. I wanted to try it and thought he might like it, too.

Our two small children, having nowhere to escape in the mid-winter cold, raced each other around the dining table as I tried to explain Wordle.

Each day the game presents a five letter word for guessing — only one. You get no opening clues, you just enter a word and have six tries. As you enter a guess, the tiles turn, not unlike the old “Wheel of Fortune” panels and reveal one of three colors to give you clues for your next guess.

A black tile means a wrong guess. Green signals a correct letter in the right place. Yellow is for a correct letter in the wrong place.

My husband sat down, took his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose.

Doing one more thing that required mental energy seemed impossible to us both in this moment. We had both worked all day, cooked a meal that our children had once again bypassed for fish sticks and waffles and attempted to cut a path through the chaos of our 3- and 4-year-olds imagination scapes that coated the floor. All the floors. We hadn’t even changed into our comfy clothes yet.

I was hopeful that this would become a fun little thing we could share because words have always played a special part in our relationship.

I actually agreed to go on a first date with him because of a word that he used. Scrolling through messages on the dating app, all the misspelled words, terrible grammar and awful pretext discouraged me. Until I got one from Sam that read, “I saw you in my daily profiles and would be remiss if I didn’t at least say hi to you.”

Remiss. That, and his good looks, is why I went to grab sushi with him well over eight and a half years ago.

After that first date, we bonded over another little word game app called Words With Friends (think Scrabble for your phone).

Given that I didn’t meet his son until we had been together a year, we spent a lot of time on this app, swapping words and having conversations around it.

Getting that little notification that Sam played a word was a sweet reminder that even though we weren’t in the same room, he was thinking about me — and playfully challenging me at the same time.

When Sam met my parents for the first time at Christmas, and later the rest of the Robertsons at our reunion, they got to know him over games of Scrabble, a family tradition.

It took all of 15 minutes for my husband to change his mind and sit down to give Wordle a try. I smirked and started to give it a shot myself. Our boys ignored him completely as he concentrated but homed in on me, the mother who had just sat down.

Henry asked me for something, so I was up again instantly. Once I sat again, Elliott was in my lap, alternately eating something and taking stabs at my phone screen.

“YES!” Sam cried victoriously as I gave up the ghost, dimming my screen.

I can’t play “remiss” on Wordle, it’s just one letter too long, but I can reclaim an old part of our relationship each time we try to one-up each other with the word of the day. As long as I try it after the kids have fallen asleep.

Categories: Commentary