I'm getting a familiar feeling.
This time last year, with the tummy flutters many parents experience, I was counting down to Ava's last day of nursery and her starting in reception.
This year, it's Ruby's turn – and the feeling is familiar, but maybe even more fluttery.
My baby, my little one! The thought of her in a school uniform makes me almost startle. Even though I've been collecting the bits and bobs she'll need for the last few weeks, she hasn't actually tried any of it on yet. Perhaps I am delaying it...
Anyway, among the tummy flutters, I have been managing some more practical thoughts about my now very nearly officially Big Girl – and one major practical thought concerned Ruby's hair.
Since she was born, Ruby has had only one hair cut – and that was really just to take the ends off.
She was born with a full head of the stuff, very dark, very thick. By the time Ru was 18 months old, her hair was nothing short of magnificent. It was the sort of hair you'd recognise from half a mile away, before you could make out the face. Made of dark, bouncy curls, Ruby's hair was, quite simply huge.
By the age of two-and-a-half, Ru's hair had dropped to her shoulders, and was ringleted.
By three-and-a-half, her curls were half way down her back. And until a couple of weeks ago, aged four-and-a-half (and a bit), her hair had passed the small of her back.
I couldn't bring myself to do it, you see. Those beautiful curls, which were once so dark and huge, had been there all that time. Perfect ringlets, made blonde by years of sunshine.
But with school around the corner, a foot-and-a-half of hair was ceasing to be practical. It also made for some pretty teary mornings, if not enough conditioner had been slathered on to get a brush through those locks. I guess I'd realised that Big Girls don't have baby curls... that reach almost to their bottom.
So, it was time. And as I'm not hairdresser, the salon awaited.
Ava came with us too. Her hair was also in desperate need of shortening – and despite me getting all 'Oh, your beautiful hair!' on them, neither Ava or Ruby seemed the slightest bit worried about the hack, not when it meant they were going to get the full salon experience.
The only trouble was, the salon experience required about an hour and a half of waiting. As it was a Sunday, the only salons open were the ones that run on queuing systems. And there was a colour and two blow dries ahead of us.
We took it in our stride. Ruby flicked through some mini hair magazines, yawning because we'd had a late-ish night the evening before. Ava chit-chatted to a lady sitting next to her about how she was NEARLY in year one, and soon her little sister Ruby would be starting school too.
Finally, it was the girls' turn. Ruby went first, and was given a huge block to sit on to make her tall enough in the styling seat.
"So, how do you want your hair done today?" the stylist asked, flicking her eyes towards me, but mostly looking at Ruby, to make her feel as grown up as possible.
"Like this!" Ruby said, holding her hand as high as she could above the top of her head.
"Er," I interjected. "We're going to make your hair shorter today, Ru, not taller."
"So, where shall we cut it to?" the hairdresser said, placing her hands either side of Ruby's shoulders, palm up. "About here?"
"Here," said Ruby, pointing to an area above the top of her ear.
"I think just below the shoulders might be better?" I suggested. Ruby frowned and nodded.
I stood in front of Ru and watched, inwardly wincing as the first cut was made, and her beautiful baby curls fell to the floor. Working quickly and expertly, the stylist chatted, partly to me, partly to Ruby, with a cheerful Essex twang.
The lullaby of that Essex twang must have been ever so soothing for Ru, the constant downward comb strokes on her head and the snip-snip noises ever so soporific, because just as the stylist was talking about how exciting it was to be going to Big School, I noticed Ruby's eyes roll...
And then I saw her head wobble...
And I caught her chin, the moment she conked out, fast asleep, just as the hairdresser was about so make a big snip.
I cradled Ruby's head there, keeping her still, while the giggling hairdresser finished her job. Big Girl Ruby, having her first proper hair cut in a salon, with her eyes gently closed and her mouth sleepy slack, softly snoring like she has done since she was a tiny baby.
My Big Girl Ruby.
MORE:Is it just me?