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I made my first foray into the world of outlet shopping recently. When I was back in the Midwest, I drove by the outlet mall at Albertville dozens of times and always thought I should go there. I told friends “We should go there.” I heard stories of others’ adventures at outlet malls and thought, or remarked “That’s a kind of shopping I’m genuinely curious about.”

Well, there’s an outlet mall… outlet, about 30 minutes from my adopted home of Providence, so when Jewish Friend said “I need a dress for fancy wedding and I don’t want to pay a lot of money for it” we decided to visit this bargain shoppers oasis.

Honestly, since I didn’t really know what to expect, I was kind of anticipating a remaindered shopping experience i.e. clothes that were all size 3XL or XS, shoes either 3 or 14, and some things “irregular”. In reality, I found some good deals, the stores were clean and looked like stores not like Sam’s Club or somesuch warehouse place, and I got a free sample of fudge in a store that smelled so sugary I felt like any diabetic best stay away for fear of coma.

I also saw approximately 5000 children, and none of them were happy.

I am baffled, simply baffled, as to why parents would bring their toddlers or infants to an outlet mall, but apparently that is the thing that you do. There is nothing there for kids to do; there is nothing there to hold their interest. Instead, the parents bring them along and seem to wait for the kids to cry themselves to sleep. The other thing was that these offenders always had two parents.

Perhaps one parent could stay home and raise the kids while the other one bargain hunts? No, this is not something that seemed to occur to anyone. The one parent would be in the changing room, while the other held the squalling infant in White House Black Market; one would console the miserable toddler on a bench while the other shopped for deals at Wilson’s Leather; or in the case of the Clarks store neither parent would parent instead letting their adorable 3-year-old boy (a coup for the black market of baby selling) run around as if he was at a playground.

I understand that once you have kids, you may need to budget a bit more, but I think you also need to realize that children will let you know when they are bored, and even if you’re used to the screaming and crying– I’m not, and I don’t care for it. This was worse than storytime at the library, this was worse than DisneyWorld/Land, this was worse than any other situation with children I have been in because this was simply not the place for them.

I don’t know if this is something that happens, like if this is just how outlet shopping goes, or if this is merely a symptom of what I found happens on Sundays in this area i.e. parents think it’s okay to take kids to non-kid approved places and ignore their protests while the kids systematically ruin everyone else’s time. I don’t blame the kids at all; I’m sure the ones in K-Bee Toys were ecstatic to be there, I place the blame squarely on the parents. I’m sorry, parents, that you’ve given up your freedom to raise your children– but that’s your choice. I do not have children because I like to outlet shop at the last minute with my Jewish Friend who is quiet and has intelligent things to say. Even when she gets pouty, she rarely screams, and if she did, I would hustle her back to the car and take her home.