I am not a "lax" or unengaged parent. I do not think everything my child does is brilliant, but I do sometimes try to put a positive spin on behaviors that other people would label as "bratty" or "wild" or "hyper." I do a TON of redirection and I empathize with her a lot. She is often overwhelmed by her own emotions and struggles so hard to contain the bursting energy within her. I have often said "Maybe she'll be an athlete" with a wry grin while she kicks a ball higher and farther than any other kid. Yes, I'm embarrassed that MY child is the one kicking the ball really high and far inside and getting excited about it. Yes, I'm going to talk to her about it. But I can't make her be quiet, obedient, or less active than she is.
She is fiercely independent and holds very strong opinions. If you just contradict her she gets quite upset, either insisting on what she's said or having a full-blown tantrum. It is so easy once you know and understand her to work around it and help her see the "other side" without crying on her part or feelings of shame for her.
She is "difficult" or "spirited" or whatever you want to call it. She also does not have a proper bedtime. It is so hard for her to calm down in the evening. Add in all that independence and stubbornness and drive and energy and bedtime is just sort of a laughable concept.
We have another child, who is not like her at all. Totally happy-go-lucky, easy, etc. He turns the pages of board books rather than tearing them apart. He plays with toys rather than throwing them. He rarely has tantrums. He can be made happy with food, TV, singing, nursing, a snuggle - pretty much anything. He's a much more typical toddler (almost 18 mos) than our daughter, but I love them both.
I guess I just shared that to try to shed some light on, well, the fact that sometimes behaviors like these aren't the parents' fault. We no more made our daughter who and what she is than we did our son. I can't take credit for his easiness nor should I take blame for her challenges.
I think I would handle the toy breaking better than your friend is - I would offer to replace anything broken and, honestly, we probably just wouldn't go back. No matter how good the friend, I would feel bad. It can be isolating to have a child who is atypical. What would really make a difference for me in that kind of situation is either meeting in a neutral place like a park or making the available toys and objects ones my toddler can handle. I'm sure I would provide more oversight and intervention than your friend is doing, but the fact is that if his kids are like my daughter, normal parenting techniques do not work. In fact, they're just plain laughable.
Sorry that was so long. This is close to my heart and I just want to share from the other side of the fence. Sometimes my heart just weeps that my daughter has so little social contact for reasons like this.
I don't think that it is possible to understand what it's like to be a parent to a child like this until you've been a parent to a child like this. I really don't.