Philip wants a dress.
Like his mom,
like his little sister Lili,
and like Charlotte, the girl next door.
When Charlotte whirls around,  her dress swirls with her,
as if it’s dancing on its own.
Philip wants to do that too.  
 
‘I want a dress,’ says Philip.
He looks in his wardrobe.
He sees shirts and shorts,
underwear and trousers,
swimming trunks
and even a tie.
But no dresses.  
 
 
 
Lili has dresses though, loads of them, lined up in her wardrobe.
His favourite is the yellow one, the yellow one with flowers.
It’s still too big for his sister, but not for Philip.
He can see that when he tries it on.  
 
‘It fits me,’ says Philip, as he whirls around.
The dress follows him, whirling high above his trousers.
‘That’s Lili’s dress,’ says mom.
‘You can borrow it, just for a little while, until you’ll go to bed.
Then we’ll put it back where it belongs.’
 
 
 
 
‘I want a dress,’ says Philip. ‘Can you borrow me yours?’
‘No!’ says Charlotte angrily.
‘Silly you! You’re a boy! Boys don’t wear dresses.
I do, ‘cause I’m a girl, and you are not.’
‘I’m Philip,’ says Philip.  
 
 
 
 
‘I want a dress,’ says Philip.
‘O dear,’ says dad. ‘That’s a problem.
Boys don’t wear dresses, they wear trousers.
Only bishops wear dresses.’
‘Those are not real dresses,’ says Philip.
‘They don’t swirl round.’  
 
 
 
'I want a dress,’ says Philip in the clothes store.
‘I want a dress just like him.’
And he points at a girl in a beautiful dress.
‘That’s a her,’ says mom, ‘a girl.’
‘Boys in dresses,’ says the lady of the store, ‘they get laughed at.
A boy in a dress is weird.’
‘A dress is nice,’ says Philip.  
 
‘I’ll make you a dress,’ says mom, as Philip leaves the bath.
She turns a towel around Philip, long and soft down to his toes.
‘Now you’re a king,’ says mom.
‘A princess,’ says Philip, but mom says that makes him a prince.  
 
 
 
 
 
‘I want a dress,’ says Philip, ‘a real one.’
The towel keeps dropping down.
‘You can’t,’ says mom.
‘Why not?’ asks Philip.
‘Because,’ says mom. ‘In our country boys don’t wear dresses,
that’s just the way it is, and everybody has forgotten why.'  
 
'I want a dress,’ says Philip.
‘Really?’ asks grandma.
‘When I was a child, I wanted trousers.
But my mom said: ‘No, You’re a girl, girls wear dresses, no trousers.’  
 
 
 
 
‘But now I’m grown-up,’ says grandma,
‘so I wear trousers, and dresses too, if I want to.’
‘I want to too,’ says Philip. ‘Or it wouldn’t be fair.’
Grandma thinks deeply.
‘Yes,’ she answers after a while. ‘It wouldn’t be fair.’
And they go up to the attic.  
 
Grandma looks in a wardrobe and she looks in a box.
She looks and she sighs and then she says ‘Yes!’
Out of the box comes a dress, a real one,
with pleats and flowers, and buttons and everything.
It’s the prettiest dress Philip has ever seen.  
 
‘Can I try it?’ he asks.
‘It’s yours,’ says grandma.
‘It ones belonged to your mom, when she was your age.
I made it myself. But she never wore it.
She said it was too small.
She said it was itchy.’  
 
The dress fits him perfectly.
Philips whirls around, and again, and again.
The dress swirls with him, round and round.
‘It’s not itchy,’ says Philip.
‘my dress is beautiful. I’ll keep it on, forever.’