My son does not like playdates with my friend's son
I have a friend who has a son close in age to my boy though they attend different elementary schools. I like chatting with my friend (we are not super close, but friendly since we met in a mother's group) while the boys play and have been trying to do those playdates once a week. This worked great in early preschool, but now that the boys are in elementary school my son no longer wants to do those playdates. He does not like playing with this boy and says it is boring and is like playing with a younger sibling (which he has one as well) since he always has to play what the other boy wants otherwise the other boy has a meltdown and nobody has fun. My son says it feels like work and is not fun and he would rather do playdates with another friend or just play with his younger sibling (my kids are very close and play together a lot) or by himself. I know those playdates are getting less and less fun for him and normally I would never force him to have a playdate with someone he does not want to play with just so I can chat with my friend, but she is asking for more playdates since her son considers my son "his best friend" and loves those playdates. Normally it would not matter, but her boy is on the spectrum (not sure of the exact diagnosis, but I know he has difficult time socially) and has a hard time making friends. She tried playdates with other kids and they all ended in disaster and she says that the playdates with my son are the only ones that consistently go well (or relatively well) ... the problem is that they go well cause my son "puts on his big brother hat" (like he practiced doing with his younger sibling) and lets the other boy has his way and slows down his game so the other boy can keep up. This was not as a much of an issue when the boys were 3, but at 6 the boys are in different places developmentally and play differently and I get more and more push back from my son to stop doing the playdates. For now I started doing them less frequently, more like once every 2-3 weeks instead of weekly, which worked well with school starting again and us getting busier but my friend says her son misses my and what can she do to have more playdates (she offered to pick up my son from school after care earlier and watch them at her place while they play until I get back from work since she is a SAHM but my son said no). I did not tell her that my son does not enjoy those playdates and that I have been forcing him to do them for a while now, and I don't know if I should tell her that or just keep making excuses to keep the playdates less frequent. And the bigger question is should I even continue forcing my son to have those playdates for the benefit of my friend's kid or just be honest with her and let my son choose his own playdate friends now that he is getting older? I feel really bad for her and was trying to help but now I'm feeling guilty sacrificing my son's happiness and time (as between school and activities he does not have a lot of free time now). Anyone been in this or similar situation and what did you do?