Keeping Up with Kristen & Khloe

By KD Reep

Khloe plays peek-a-boo with mom Kristen at the shoot. Photo by Lily Darragh.

Khloe plays peek-a-boo with mom Kristen at the shoot. Photo by Lily Darragh.

Kristen and Khloe Jacola are in constant motion. The mother and daughter from Saline County count work, school and home duties as part of their daily schedules, but they do it at a sonic pace. Here’s how they manage it all.

Where are you from? I was born in West Monroe, Louisiana, but moved to Arkansas when I was very young and have been here ever since. I graduated from Benton High School in 2003.

What is your profession? I have worked at Kinco Construction in payroll and administration for three years now. It started out as a temporary position, but they hired me on full time, and it’s the best company I have ever worked for.

What is your day-to-day like? Get up around 6 a.m., get ready then pick out my kids’, Landon and Khloe, outfits for the day. They eat breakfast then get off to school around 7:20 a.m. I go to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., then pick up Khloe from Friendship Community Care around 5:15 p.m. every day. Then we head to Nana’s house to pick up my son. Once home, I fix dinner, we do homework, play and watch TV.

Khloe has Down’s syndrome. What was it like to get her diagnosis? We found out at 18 weeks and went in for a special ultrasound. They told us she looked normal and everything looked fine, but they didn’t see she had Down’s syndrome. They did say her limbs looked a little short, but that was it. I had Khloe at 36 weeks, and she was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital the next day and stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for more than 30 days. I was very scared, and I had no idea what to expect, but she has no heart problems and has already had eye surgery, adenoids taken out, three sets of ear tubes and dental work done. She is a trooper and always does a great job at these procedures. 

As a single mom raising a child with special needs, what obstacles do you face? How do you overcome and deal with those obstacles? Of course, every Down’s syndrome kid is different. Khloe is a wild and active little girl. She is fearless and doesn’t see any type of danger. She keeps me running and jumping through obstacles for her. For the most part, the hardest thing about doing it alone is Khloe doesn’t understand the concept of waiting in line. She can’t talk so I don’t understand everything she wants or needs. I don’t know what all her cries are about, which is frustrating for both of us. If she wants something, she is going to fight to get it or go to it. I can’t always take her places because she doesn’t sit still, so I can’t take her to a movie or play where she has to sit there because she wants to get up and run into the middle of it. She doesn’t like to sit in a highchair for a long time while we eat or a shopping cart long enough to shop. She wants naturally to walk beside me or with me for anything. For the most part, I just deal with it all. I’m not going to miss out on birthday parties or seasonal activities because I know she’ll give me the hardest time. She has no idea what Halloween is, but you better believe we are dressing up and going door-to-door just like every other kid. I’m not going to stuff her in a house and never let her experience what other kids get to do just because it will make my day harder.

What is your support system like? My family and friends are great support. They love Khloe and don’t treat her differently.

What is your favorite thing about being a mom? Seeing their eyes light up when they see me. Khloe beams with joy every day when I pick her up, and I get the biggest hug. I get the best snuggles and that innocent unconditional love that you know you wouldn’t get from anyone else.

What do you all like to do as a family? We spend time together either watching TV, reading a book or doing a puzzle. Whatever Landon and Khloe want to do.

What do you want readers to take away from your story? Down’s syndrome kids are beautiful, special, loving kids that deserve everything any other child does. I hope they can see the happiness and love in these kids’ eyes and hearts. I really want other parents to talk with their kids about special little boys and girls and teach them about using harsh words and staring or pointing. I had a little girl ask me what was wrong with Khloe’s face one day, and it broke my heart. But Khloe puts a smile on everyone’s face. While she was in the hospital waiting room, she went around to each person and gave them a big hug and high five. They all smiled and loved it. It just brought happiness to a quiet, cold room while these parents waited on their kids in surgery. She is definitely a shining star. I know she’s going to do big things one day, and nothing is going to stop her.