Children are like horses. I'll explain later. I remember all too well our first child (now almost two) crying a shrill cry that was roughly equivalent to driving steel spikes into my head. I'm only slightly exaggerating- I would literally get a splitting headache in under 3 minutes of crying. Then, as if sent by heaven, I read "somewhere" that reggae beats were the near-perfect child soother. I have looked in vain through all my child-rearing advice books (many of them with barely cracked spines), and have yet to discover where I actually found this pearl.
Obviously you have to check all the usual suspects... Hungry? Chilly? Poopy? After that, though, it might just be unHappy Hour- that magic time when babies' brains need to reboot and go sleepy-sleepy. Unfortunately this POST involves crying uncontrollably for an indeterminate amount of time. Buckle up, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye.
Then I discovered the aforementioned reggae technique, and put it to the test. And you know what? It worked, and if you do a little Googlin' you'll find scores of testimonials to the same effect. Just put that reggae beat in your feet and sway back and forth to the groove- "Buffalo Soldier" put her right out every time. My wife would marvel at how good I was at soothing the savage beast- "How come she never goes down that well for ME?" I tried several times to explain that this, combined with what I call the "5 more minutes" technique, gave me a 90% success ratio of putting the baby down in a relatively short amount of time. (Once she's made that last whimper, and the eyes have finally shut, wait a FULL 5 minutes using a clock before stopping whatever you're doing and trying to lay her down. It's the longest five minutes of your life, but again it seems to work).
So now it's almost two years later and we have a new little girl, almost 4 weeks old. For the first three weeks, she was the quietest, sweetest little babe you could ask for, but now she's started up with the needing to reboot almost every night (kinda like Windows ME). Fortunately, I now have a BlackBerry Storm (sorry, not cool enough for an iPhone- jk, fanboys. I'm writing this on a Mac- I'm just stuck with Verizon for the short term). This means that I have been able to further refine the process into near GeekScience. I have full MP3 playback ability and can actually play "Jammin" as I sway back and forth, and then can time out the full five minutes easily on the large, flip-face clock. And when that gets boring, I can just pop open the Slacker Radio app and listen to a Buffalo Soldier-like radio station of smooth reggae grooviness.
So why are children like horses? I firmly believe that this doesn't work just because of some magic in the metronome, but rather because of the overall soothing effect of reggae on you. It's often been said about horses that, "as soon as you think you're out of control, you are out of control." Babies, like horses, can sense your emotional state. When it comes time for unHappy Hour, the two of you can get locked into a feedback loop of ever-increasing unhappiness. However, when you're listening to Bob Marley, it's very difficult to feel anything other than mellow, which in turn helps to mellow out your child.
Plus if your geekling is still small enough for a one-armed rock, you can check your FriendFeed on your CrackBerry, too :)