For two years now, DS, age 7, soon to be 8, has been classmates with a boy who lives very nearby. They are in 2nd grade now. Over the past year, I have begun a friendship with the friend's mother, and the two of us check in a couple of times a week by email and phone. We've also had several dinner dates with all kids involved.
For the past several months, my son has been complaining that his friend is annoying, and sometimes says "he isn't even my friend!". We carpool with this family two afternoons/week and he dreads this. The friend usually spends the entire ride asking if DS can stay at his house for dinner, or if he can come to ours. The friend doesn't want to leave the car when we get to his house, and his mother (my friend) has to carry him out. My DS, meanwhile, locks the car door, which gives a sense of his response to the whole dynamic.
My general sense is that DS finds the friend's eagerness overwhelming. He has also told me that the friend doesn't like to play games b ythe rules that he and others have agreed to at recess at school. My son is a bit of a leader, and the downside of this is that he can be bossy. So I don't know whether he makes the rules and insists that others follow them, or whether the friend likes to be wild and simply has a hard time following rules. Either, or both, could be true.
The friend, for his part, is sensitive, caring (I witnessed him show real kindness to my son when my son was upset at school on one occassion), and very artistic and athletic. He also has diffiucltytransitioning from one activity to another, often does not follow through on requests to pack up and get into the car (or out of the car), etc, without real and serious adult intervention, and likes to be wild. And, he's very eager about the friendship with my son, which as noted above, I think is overwhelming for my son.
In any case, friend's mother, who is also my friend now, often asks for a playdate between our boys, and my son's response is usually "NO!" I've said no to couple of playdates, and my friend actually said to me, "If there is something about _________ that (DS) doesn't like, please tell me." I felt anxious and I missed the opportunity there to tell her about DS's resistance. I said that he was tired and needing some unstructured time at home, which was true, but it's also true that there is something about this friendship that doesn't click for him right now. He has two other friends he enjoys playdates with, and is eager to play with, so the difference is really striking. I'm just not sure how to handle this with the friend's mother (my friend). I'm worried that she'll be offended in some way that my son isn't as into the friendship (although that may be obvious anyway). Is simple and direct information the best way here (e.g. "DS just isn't clicking in this friendship right now, and I'm not entirely sure why, but he seems overwhelmed by X's eagerness.")?
Any advice most welcome!