I believe I first started saying this when my own children were little. It's meant to be a protection against over-aggressive hugging. You know, when kids hug each other, and keep hanging on as they hug some more...and then they get all over-excited and the hug becomes tighter until all of the sudden both huggers are on the floor - and then are either silly and out of control, or hurt and just not feeling the Hug Love anymore. The truth is that there is a very fine line between a hug and an assault when you're in preschool.
So, as a result we often say, "Hug and let go!" when we see the Little People hugging each other. And apparently they're taking this phrase to heart, because I hear them repeating it to each other as well. In fact, today one of them apparently not only took it to heart, but also mixed it up with another common phrase we say: "We hug our friends at school, but we don't kiss our friends." (another nugget of preschool wisdom). We were on our way to the cafeteria when she gazed around serenely, as if in deep thought, and suddenly stated, "We hug and we let people go at school, but we don't kiss them." "Why, yes," I answered. "That is right."
And then there was the Little Person at school today who at the end of playground time was wandering around moaning plaintively, looking altogether distressed. Despite the fact that he was completely disregarding that other important phrase of "We Use a Talking Voice at School (Not a Whining Voice), I went ahead and bypassed that fact to ask him what was wrong.
"Ohhhhhh," he moaned. "I need to find someone to hug so I can let goooooo!" Well, okay. I never really thought of the hugging being just the means to the end, but as long as letting go is the end, I suppose that's okay.
His sad quest to find some to (hug and) let go of ended up in quite the Hug Fest as we talked about good ways to ask someone if they wanted as hug, and as many other Little People piped up that they liked hugs. So there was lots of hugging all around.
And lots of letting go, as well. And sometimes, that's what matters.