'Mother Nurture: Life Lessons From the Mothers of America's Best and Brightest'

Leah said that it was her mother, Steven's grandmother, who originally saw something in her grandson. "My mother, who was a highly intelligent woman, would say to me, 'Keep your eye on him. He's amazing.'" Although for a free spirit like Leah it wasn't about pinpointing some abstract quality and honing in on it. Reflecting today, she said, "I don't think like that. If I saw it, I wouldn't have recognized it."

As a child that was always ahead of the curve, Leah said that Steven was speaking "articulately" at a year. When most kids his age were playing with trucks or sports, Leah said Steven's childhood was more about making films in the backyard. "He came up with such weird things. I loved his crazy ideas." While other mothers were driving their children to little league, Leah said she was involved in a different way. "I schlepped him wherever he wanted to go to shoot film. When he was twelve he wanted to go to the desert and film, so I took him." As fitting for someone who would go on to become the most famous director of his generation, Leah said that Steven was always the director in these situations. "I didn't set the example. He directed me from the time he was very young." Asked about whether, and when, she read to him, Leah said there was no schedule, an approach which is certainly emblematic of her parenting style. "Whenever is the greatest time I know."

For Leah, being Steven's mother was about sharing his passion for movies. "I was always fired with this kind of creativity. I loved the birth of things." However, Leah was hardly a pushy, over-bearing mother trying to make her son into a young film prodigy. More than anything, Leah said that her parenting style was as much defined by cultivating her own interests as it was about Steven. "I had my own agenda. I was busy with my own stuff. I would say to the kids, 'Don't kill each other,' when I would leave to do my own things."

However, Leah was always there when it mattered. "I remember he used to get frightened, because he had such a vivid imagination. I would just hold him until he calmed down." Leah described a zest and passion for everything she did in life—qualities her son certainly inherited. Comparing her enthusiasm to watching a storm ascend, Leah said, she loves watching things build. "I love excitement. When a storm is coming you should see me." It was this image, she said, that encapsulated how she parented and approaches her life. "I lived for the moment and never about tomorrow or the day after."

While there was certainly an unusual energy permeating Steven's childhood, Leah said there was also a sense of normalcy about the day-to-day routine. "We ate dinner together every night. It was important for us to do that because, as a family, we really ignite each other."

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