Wordle together, stay together


Last updated 2/7/2024 at 3:38pm | View PDF

It’s 6 a.m. My phone dings once. A few seconds later, a second ding. I roll over and see the familiar green and yellow squares. And so the day begins, the family Wordle group texts are activated.

I smile, assessing my mom’s score. I know she played at midnight, unable to sleep. She’s mentioned once, twice — or a dozen times — that she politely waits until 7 her time, before hitting “share” to not disturb the few of us who are an hour behind, living in the central time zone. The second ding will be on the other family group text and from my father-in-law, who like my mother held off on sharing his score until an appropriate hour. I’m sure he played three hours earlier when his day began at 5 a.m.

Both the night owls and early birds of our families flock to the game requiring five letters of successful strategy and sometimes just luck. There are two Wordle groups on my phone, one for my family, one for my husband’s. Each named with an inside joke, funny only to the members in it.

For the past two years, this casual touch-point with our siblings and parents is how I feel anchored daily to the people who I love most. Not living close to our families, the rhythm of this ritual is comforting.

With a smart play, my brother’s wife will be next. Then comes my husband’s score from downstairs, enjoying his morning coffee and news. Celebratory emoji claps are shared when someone hits a low score of two.

Another ding. It’ll be my husband’s sister. A natural competitor, she’s ready to get her rank reported. Her husband quickly follows as GIF exchanges light up the screen about unfair advantages (they “allegedly” know each other’s starter words). My husband calls it “cheating,” his sister says it’s “using resources”. The familiar banter of a know-it-all-older-brother and taunting kid-sister unfolds, as it has for over four decades now.

Their middle brother, true to his birth order, and I kindly stay out of the accusations, as does another sister-in-law. Her husband, the youngest of their siblings, was banned afrom the group after spoiling the word once. After all, this is serious Wordle-ing.

My mother-in-law and dad spend some time working theirs out, fiddling with letters throughout the day. My brother has busy mornings and will send an afternoon score.

As I wind down the day, I finally sit down, relax, pick letters and watch my gray squares turn green. Looking at the time, I’m careful to not share my score past 9 p.m. Back in the eastern time zone, our families are headed to bed.

A few hours later, it all starts again.

— Carissa Kapcar of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers

can email her at

[email protected].


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