How I Named My Baby: John Aidan
Beau and John Smart live in Fresno, California with their six sons: Justin Ira, Griffin Michael, Bennett Aaron, Travis Dean, Wesley Miles, and John Aidan.
Over twenty years after the birth of their first child, Beau and John welcomed their sixth, and last, John Aidan. Aidan, as he’s called, is named after his father, but that was not at all what Beau and John expected.
Here, Beau shares how she and John named Aidan.
Tell me how you named Aidan!
It was super hard. When we first found out we were going to have a baby, we started talking names right away because the last time we had a baby, he didn’t come home from the hospital with a name. It took about four days to finalize it. With COVID and everything, I knew they would want a name before I left the hospital.
We were digging deep. We tried lots and lots of names. My husband is much more conventional than me. John suggested the name Kelly, which I was shocked about coming from him. It’s predominantly female! He must have had good childhood associations with that name or something. But we played with that for a while.
We weren’t planning on having another baby. Aidan was a COVID surprise! When I had my baby before him, Wesley Miles, I couldn’t decide if I liked Wesley or Miles better, so I just used both of them. If I hadn’t used both of them, his name would have been Miles.
When I had my 20-week ultrasound, we found out the baby had a cleft lip. They didn’t know how severe it would be, but it instantly changed the way I felt about naming the baby because I was much more protective of what he was going to go through in life. I didn’t want to go with Kelly — I thought it would be hard enough to be a boy named Kelly and have a scar on your face.
For a while, we had the name Thomas Gene. Thomas is my husband’s middle name, and my middle name is Jean, but I wasn’t crazy about this combination. It was our runner-up.
How did you decide to call him by his middle name?
I like the way John Aidan flows much better than Aidan John. My first four boys have grandparent names for their middle names. But we ran out of grandpas! Both of my grandfathers went by their middle names. So I thought we could call our baby by his middle name.
When I agreed to John, I never thought we would call him John. I said, “Well, we’ll put it on the birth certificate, but I don’t know what we’re going to call him.” I didn’t even plan on calling him Aidan. I just picked Aidan because I liked it and we had to pick a name!
I was really hesitant about Aidan because it’s so popular. John is historically so common and Aidan is very popular but now falling.
Was there less pressure to choose the “perfect” name after five previous pregnancies?
20 years ago, when I named my second son Griffin, it felt so neat and new. When I named my third son Bennett 17 years ago, nobody had his name. Now they’ve moved so far up. I love both of those names, so when thinking about naming another baby, I want to love his name as much as the others’. I didn’t want him to feel like he was getting a leftover.
We flipflopped the entire pregnancy and days after he was born. He didn’t get named until the moment I was leaving the hospital. I was confident that his name was going to be John Aidan, but I didn’t know what we would call him day-to-day.
I thought of calling him Jas, because his initials are JAS. I thought of calling him Demi, because in Little Women, the baby boy is named John, after his father, but they call him Demi as a nickname. I had these little ideas of things we could try to call him, and then after we got home, we started calling him things and trying to figure out what felt good. Over time, I fell into calling him Aidan. It felt the most natural.
Did you ask anyone for advice about the name?
Everybody! I asked everybody. When my husband suggested Kelly early on in my pregnancy, we asked our families. We both have very large families — my husband is one of ten, and I’m one of six. His family is much more traditional — brutal, he says. They told us we couldn’t call him Kelly. My family was much more for it. Some of my sisters were like, “Kelly is fun — do it!”
Everyone liked the idea of using our middle names. But I felt that if a man has six sons, one of them should be named after him. They’re all getting his last name, but it’s traditional. And John is his grandfather and great-grandfather’s name, so it honored them as well.
This time around, I felt like it was okay to go traditional. And I never would have picked that twenty years ago! I would have said, “Absolutely not! No child of mine will be named John. It’s just too ordinary!”
How has your taste in names changed since your first pregnancy?
I don’t think it’s changed a lot, but the name pool has shrunk. Because my husband’s family is so large and my family is so large, my kids have 44 first cousins. And over half of those are boys! So a lot of the names that I love now belong to their cousins.
I wanted him to have a two-syllable name like all my other boys. And I wanted it to sound like it went with the sibset, style-wise.
Did your sons have any suggestions for the baby’s name?
We occasionally asked them, but they’re obviously not as into it as I am. Or I’d ask them, “What would you name your baby if you had kids?” and they’d roll their eyes and say, “I’ve never thought about that, Mom.”
When I was pregnant, we called the baby Rocket, just for fun. The boys still call him that sometimes. I knew we weren’t going to name the baby Rocket. Well, I might have done it.
Did you have any names picked out for a girl?
Oh yeah. We still have our original list! For our first baby, we didn’t find out the sex, so we had a girl name and a boy name picked out. Our girl name was Ariel. We’ve always had it ready if we ever had a girl.
Ariel was a compromise name that we agreed on 20 years ago. If it had been up to me and I had had a girl, I would have named her Una! I’ve loved it since I was a teenager in the ‘90s. Now that Luna is getting so popular, I think it might be too similar. But John said “no way” anyways, so I had to lose that one.
Aidan probably would have been Ariel if he was a girl. Or Cecily. That one showed up five or six years after I stared having babies and stuck around, too.
If I had known when I started that I was going to have six boys, I think I would have done the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ABC order. I never imagined when I started that I would have six boys. I couldn’t conceive of that ever being an outcome — I have four sisters!
What names did you like before you had children?
I liked the name Knox back in the ‘90s. From The Dead Poets Society. When Brad and Angelina used it, I was like, “That was my name!”
I liked Friedrich and Fritz. When I was a kid, I liked more girl names than boy names. Una’s been on the list for a long time, along with Gabriella and Rhiannon. I haven’t thought about them in so long because my husband wasn’t crazy about most of them!
How do you feel about your name and how did it influence your choices?
I love my name. My dad had a female cousin named Beau who was born back in the ‘50s. She hated her name, but my dad really liked this cousin and thought her name was neat. When I was born, he suggested the name Beau, and my mom thought it was cute, like a hair bow. It doesn’t necessarily sound masculine.
I was teased a lot growing up with the name Beau. Bo Jackson was really big in the ‘80s — he was a football and baseball player, and the commercials were “Bo Knows.” I would get that all the time. And boa constrictor, Bo Didley, Beauregard — lots of people would say things about my name! But I never was hurt by it, I just kind of accepted it. I think my mom gave me a really good foundation on my name before I ever went to school.
Before the Disney variation, the princess from Beauty and the Beast was always called Beauty, not Belle. When I was little and we’d read Beauty and the Beast, my mom would say, “Oh look Beau, that’s like your name.” So I always had positive associations with it.
People do not know how to pronounce my name. I think if I lived in the South or something, people would know how to say it, but not in this part of the country. 80 percent of the time, people mispronounce my name. They rhyme it with Hugh.
I don’t typically care for boys’ names on girls. I like more feminine girl names! But I’ve never had that feeling about my own name — I don’t think of it as masculine. I love that it felt like my very own name.
What are the trendy names in your social circle?
Elliott, Owen, Colton, and Jackson for boys. Harper, Luna, Sophie, and Kaylee for girls. There’s an eight-year gap between Wesley and Aidan, so a lot of people in my social circle are done having kids! Long done having kids.
Did you have any big fears related to baby names?
I was afraid I’d regret naming him John Aidan! That it wasn’t original enough. It was hard having another baby during COVID and an unplanned pregnancy, and the stress of his cleft and not knowing how hard it would be.
My husband was just so supportive and wonderful. He’s been so great, and I felt like naming him John felt somehow much more special after spending 20 years with him than it would have been when we were first married and having kids.
What was the most surprising part of the baby name process this time around?
That I named him John! Even Aidan. I felt that even though I loved the name, that it was just too common. Every single one of my kids knows an Aidan. In every age group, from my oldest kid down to the eight-year-old. There are still a lot of kids being named Aidan and Jayden and Brayden and Caiden!
What advice would you give someone who’s just starting the baby name process?
Even though I was very interested in everybody’s opinion — I always love opinions — you have to go with what you love. If it has special meaning to you, that’s what makes the name.
Thank you so much, Beau!